Four crew members are missing after a container vessel operated by Danish shipping firm AP Moller-Maersk subsidiary Maersk Line caught fire in the Arabian Sea.

Another 23 crew members have been safely evacuated from the Maersk Honam vessel, which reported a ‘serious fire’ in one of its cargo holds on 6 March.

The crew sent out a distress signal after failing to extinguish the fire. They were then evacuated to a nearby vessel, ALS Ceres, which arrived at the scene around two hours later.

One crew member from Thailand died in the incident, reported Reuters.

Maersk Honam was en route from Singapore to Suez at the time of the incident and was positioned around 900 nautical miles southeast of Salalah, Oman, with 7,860 containers.

AP Moller – Maersk chief operating officer and executive board member Søren Toft said: “The evacuated crew is obviously distressed, with two crew members currently receiving medical first aid on-board the ALS Ceres.

“We will offer them all the support we can in this very difficult situation.”

“We will offer crisis counselling for the seafarers signing-off and returning to their families, and our thoughts and deepest empathy go out to the families of the crew members that are still unaccounted for.

“We will offer them all the support we can in this very difficult situation.”

Maersk further noted that the situation of the vessel is still very critical.

Search-and-rescue operations are currently going on to find the missing crew.

Among the crew on-board Maersk Honam, 13 are of Indian nationality, nine are from the Philippines, one each from Romania, South Africa, and the UK, and two are from Thailand.

The cause of the fire is currently unknown.