It took more than a day for rescue forces in the southern beach town of Vung Tau to put out a fire on a foreign boat on Monday afternoon.
Wealthy Global, which had been stuck off Vung Tau for three years, caught on fire at 2 p.m. on Sunday while its owner was having people dismantle it for salvage.
The 25,000-ton and 196-meter-long boat is registered to the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, not far to the east of Australia, and is one of the biggest crane vessels with a lifting capacity of 5,000 tons and equipped with two helicopter pads.
Rescue boats only approached the site five hours after the fire as they were hindered by reefs, strong winds and flammable substances on the boat including tanks of oxygen and welding gas acetylene and 6,000 liters of diesel.
The 31 crew members and engineers aboard were brought to shore before firefighting boats arrived at around midnight and extinguished the fire at 3 p.m. the next day, when the boat's cabin had been burned down to its iron frame.
Le Van Chien, director of Vung Tau Maritime Authority, said the cause of the fire is being investigated, but an eyewitness said it started from the bedroom of the crew members.
It was noticed early, but spread fast, Chien told news website VnExpress.
A source of Thanh Nien said that Wealthy Global had been stuck at the reefy waters off Vung Tau ever since it floated there after breaking its anchor while stopping near the Ho Chi Minh City coast in July 2010.
Local authorities had ordered the boat's owner Asian Giant Limited to salvage it by the end of last year, failure of which had caused the owner to pay a VND15 million fine.
The salvage was then extended to the end of this year.
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