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June 7, 2004

Fatality follows chemical tanker explosion

Norwegian chemical tanker specialist Odfjell reports that a crew member has died following an accident Friday involving the M/T NCC MEKKA. A second crew member is hospitalized and is in critical condition.

According to Odfjell, there was an explosion in one of NCC MEKKA's cargo tanks. The incident occurred along the coast of Brazil after departing Santos.

The ship had discharged part of a cargo of chemicals in Santos, Brazil and was proceeding to Aratu, Brazil to load cargo before continuing to the U.S. East Coast.

M/T NCC MEKKA has a crew of 27 persons. Three of whom are Norwegian, 23 Philippino and one from Latvia.

M/T NCC MEKKA is a 37,272 dwt chemical tanker built in Norway in 1995. The ship is registered in Norway and classed by Det Norske Veritas (DNV). M/T NCC MEKKA is owned by National Chemical Carriers Ltd of Saudi Arabia, and operated commercially and managed by Odfjell ASA in Bergen, Norway.

The ship is now at anchorage outside Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. There is presently no danger for the ship, the remaining crew and cargo. Odfjell said on Saturday that the accident had not resulted in any pollution. A representative of the classification society was carrying out an inspection of the damages to the ship and we expect this to take place today.

Odfjell says it has requested for a Maritime Enquiry (Sj┐forklaring) to be carried out by Norwegian authorities. "We anticipate this to take place in Rio de Janeiro during the next week," said a company statement. "Until completion of the enquiry we are unable to make any comments as to the possible cause of the accident."

This is the second incident this year involving an explosion aboard an Odfjell tanker.

In February, the 39,821 dwt product tanker BOW MARINER sank about 50 miles off the Virginia coast after suffering an explosion when en route from New York to Texas City

BOW MARINER was managed by Ceres Hellenic Shipping Enterprises in Greece, commercially operated by Odfjell in Bergen, Norway and owned by Odfjell's subsidiary Odfjell Asia II Pte Ltd, Singapore.

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