on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Sea
Disaster struck today, after an explosion in a fuel storage tank literally rocked the port of Gibraltar, alongside where the Independence of the Seas, belonging to Royal Caribbean was docked today.
The ship, carrying approximately 4,000 passengers, felt the full force of the explosion, according to reports on Gibraltar Radio. Ship’s Operators (Royal Caribbean) say 12 passengers suffered minor injuries and received medical treatment on board. Crew of the Independence made an emergency departure, pulling up its gangways and moving away from the quayside to anchor further out in the harbor port area.
Two of the injured passengers were left ashore and it is expected that they will be reunited with the ship later. The cruise terminal on the quayside was also evacuated.
Aftermath from the Blast:
Plumes of billowing black smoke filled the air as the oil tanks were aflame after the blast, (which was reported to have been felt up to a mile away). Local authorities believe the likely cause of the mishap appears to have been welding work which was being carried out on the top of the tank.
A Spanish workman was seriously injured and after being taken to a local hospital was transferred to a specialist unit in Seville, as well as a policeman who received burns while attempting to rescue the workman from the immediate area. Flights in and out of Gibraltar airport were temporarily suspended for a brief period as the tank continued to burn out of control. Damages and the continued threats still posed will likely cause some more interruption with docking, and ships will most likely tender passengers to and from their ships to the port area for the immediate future.
The Cruise Ship’s Itinerary:
Independence left Southampton on Saturday for a 14-night Mediterranean cruise. It arrived in Gibraltar, for its first port of call, this morning and was due to depart at 4 pm, which was about the same time as the explosion took place. Of the 4,153 passengers on board, 3,894 are reported to be from the UK and Ireland.
The Independence departed from port later in the day. While the explosion caused (unpreventable) injuries to some of the ships passengers, the quick response from the ships crew, and port authorities helped reduce any potential further injuries and served to reduce the immediate danger(s) posed to the cruise ship and the remaining passengers.