The 6 crew members of the ship that caught fire off the coast of California, where 34 people died, were asleep at the time the fire broke out, a preliminary investigation has observed, indicating that there was no awake night watchman on the ship.
“At the time of the fire, five crew members were asleep behind the helmhouse and one crew member was asleep in the interior rooms of bunk beds,” says the National Transportation Security Board’s (NTSB) preliminary report on its investigations into the causes of the incident.
The authorities had previously assured that the ship should have a night watchman to alert other colleagues and passengers of possible dangers.
The accident occurred last September 2nd when the recreational diving boat Conception caught fire near the island of Santa Cruz (California) with 39 people on board, 34 of whom died – the body of the last missing was rescued Wednesday by authorities.
The NTSB report contradicts earlier reports that the five survivors of the tragedy, all crew members, were awake on deck when the fire broke out and jumped into the water.
Apparently, according to that official document, a crew member awoke by a noise and discovered the fire, after which he called the rest of his colleagues and the captain, who alerted the Coast Guard.
At that moment, they tried to access the cabins where the rest of the passengers slept, but all the entrances were wrapped in flames and made the rescue impossible.
Regarding the possible reasons for the explosion, the NTSB advanced that after interviewing three members of the crew, they ruled out any mechanical or electrical problems.
In addition, some of the crew members admitted that they hadn’t had adequate training to handle an emergency.
The same agency also published a document setting out new safety measures to limit unsupervised charging of lithium-ion batteries and recommendations on the use of power strips and extension cords.
It appears that the researchers’ hypothesis is that a charging station used by passengers for telephones and other electronic devices, located in the kitchen, may have exploded due to a malfunction of lithium batteries.