Ships 2

Aegean Wind

Ships 3

Aegean Wind

Christmas Fire Kills Nine On Aegean Wind

By James Donahue

The bulk carrier Aegean Wind was carrying 37,000 tons of iron ore from Brazil to Houston, Texas, when an early morning Christmas Day fire broke out in the engine room and quickly spread into the superstructure that included the mess hall and living quarters for the crew

Before the blaze was contained, nine members of the ship’s 24-man crew were dead, authorities said. At least five others were treated for burns after being removed from the burning ship by helicopter.

The Aegean Wind, a 607-foot-long vessel flying a Greek flag, was in the Caribbean about 100 miles north of Venezuela when the fire broke out early on Dec. 25, 2009. A company spokesman said crew members were in the mess hall when the fire started. Bodies were found in various sections of the ship.

The Venezuelan Navy sent two patrol boats and helicopters to extinguish the fire and carry the injured sailors to a hospital in Margarita, a nearby Venezuelan island in the Caribbean. One sailor was later flown to Caracas for treatment in a military hospital.

The fire was extinguished before the ship was in danger of sinking. Authorities searched the smoke-filled lower decks to find the bodies of the dead sailors. They said for some unknown reason, the crew never attempted to launch the ship's life boats.

The cause of the fire was undetermined, authorities said. The Aegean Sea was later towed to Margarita Island.

The ship, which was built in 1983, is owned by Atlantic Bulk Carrier Management, Ltd., of Piraeus, Greece.