An oil tanker caught fire off the Malaysian coast, leaving three crew members missing

(CNN) Malaysian maritime authorities said in a statement that search efforts are underway for three missing crew members after a Gabon-registered oil tanker caught fire off the coast of southern Malaysia.

The Malaysian Maritime Law Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said it received an alert at 4 p.m. local time on Monday of a fire on a tanker, about 37.5 nautical miles northeast of the coastal district of Tanjung Sideli in Johor state.

The ministry said the tanker was sailing from China to Singapore with 28 crew members on board when it caught fire.

The ministry added that a patrol boat was sent to the accident site to rescue those on board. “Fortunately, 23 crew members were rescued by two ships in the vicinity,” said Rear Admiral Noor Hazam Zakaria, director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mathematics.

“While we managed to rescue two crew members, three are still missing,” he added.

Ongoing operations will include investigations into whether the trio abandoned the tanker and jumped into the sea, or if they were trapped.

Maritime authorities in neighboring Singapore said they were broadcasting alerts to ships in the vicinity to search for the three missing crew. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore identified the tanker as the MT Pablo.

Videos showed the tanker on fire, with large columns of black smoke billowing into the air. Other ships were spotted nearby.

It is currently unclear if there is any widespread environmental impact.

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