Passengers injured as cruise ship is rocked by blast in Gibraltar fuel tank

//Passengers injured as cruise ship is rocked by blast in Gibraltar fuel tank



UPDATE: Twelve passengers on board one of the biggest cruise ships in the world were injured when an explosion in a fuel storage tank rocked the port of Gibraltar.
Independence of the Seas, carrying more than 4,000 passengers, felt the full force of the explosion, according to reports on Gibraltar Radio. The ship made an emergency departure, pulling up its gangways and moving further out at sea.
The cruise terminal on the North Mole was immediately evacuated and two passengers were left behind.
Dense black smoke billowed from the blazing oil tank after the blast, which was felt up to a mile away. Police have not ruled out a terrorist involvement, but the more likely cause appears to have been welding work which was being carried out on the top of the tank.
A Spanish workman was seriously injured and after being taken to a local hospital was transferred to a specialist unit in Seville. A policeman received burns while attempting to rescue him.
Flights in and out of Gibraltar airport were temporarily suspended as the tank continued to burn out of control well into the night.
A spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines said today that the 12 injured passengers – 11 of them from the UK – sustained minor injuries including burns, abrasions and a dislocated finger. They have been treated by the medical team on board.
The two passengers who were still ashore when the explosion happened were not injured. The cruise line is arranging for them to rejoin the ship on Thursday in France.
Independence left Southampton on Saturday for a 14-night Mediterranean cruise. It arrived in Gibraltar, the first port of call, this morning and was due to depart at 4.00 pm, about the same time as the explosion. It is now continuing with its scheduled itinerary to Cannes, Barcelona, Palma, Alicante, Lisbon and Vigo. Of the 4,153 passengers on board, 3,894 are from the UK and Ireland.
Cruise ship Ocean Princess arrived in Gibraltar this morning. Instead of tying up, the ship was anchored a few hundred yards off-shore and passengers were taken ashore by tender.
A video posted to YouTube by a Gibraltarian known as “Mendenge” shows Independence of the Seas pulling out of port as the fire raged.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:06+00:00 31 May 2011|Cruise News|13 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.


  1. colourzoom 31 May 2011 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    Gibraltar TV and radio have said nothing about injured passengers, although a couple of people working at the scene of the fire have been taken to hospital with injuries. Easyjet are, apparently, operating out of Gib as normal. I’m on the last day of my holidays, desperately trying to get information about my flight home tomorrow, and have uncovered enough evidence for myself to declare this report null and void.

  2. sue 31 May 2011 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    my father is on this ship and has been injured !!!

  3. Colin nisbet 31 May 2011 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    On board and close to blast have picture of man on top of tank just after explosion captain moved fast and we departed within 4 minutes

  4. MOONFACE 1 June 2011 at 12:01 am - Reply

    Why would Colourzoom dispute the contents of this article? The statement about injured passengers came from Royal Caribbean and they have no reason to make it up. The airport was closed for a short period. And we have a comment from someone who was on the ship and another from someone who’s father is on the ship and has been hurt. Who are you Coulorzoom explain yourself

  5. Mikey Moran 1 June 2011 at 12:51 am - Reply

    I am currently on board the Independance and can confirm we heard 3 loud bangs which shook the ship we were asked by the bridge via the tanoy to evacuate all external decks and balconys. We were then told to wait in our cabins. Lots of passengers were confused however the bridge attempted to keep us fully informed with as much info as they had. As soon as we heard the 3 bangs our ship was moved from the dock and we set sail for Cannes we did not anchor out at sea like some of the reports have stated. There was a man on top of the tank welding just prior to the explosion and it is him whom we assume was taken to hospital with extensive burns. The ship made several announcements for guests however we are not sure if anyone was indeed left behind.
    Some guests who were on deck 11 balconys overlooking the tanks have said the heat was extreme and some have minor burns.

  6. colourzoom 1 June 2011 at 11:06 am - Reply

    @Mikey and Moonface: at the time of writing last night from a restaurant in Gib, the media were speculating wildly about injured passengers among other things, and an official statement from Royal Caribbean had yet to be made. Facts were scant, as today’s Gibraltar Chronicle reports. Evidently, these facts followed just a few minutes after my post; such is the fast-moving nature of the media. No malice or offence intended. My sympathies with the families of anyone injured.

  7. John Honeywell 1 June 2011 at 11:50 am - Reply

    Thanks for the follow-up, Colourzoom. Just to clarify, my report about injuries to passengers on board Independence of the Seas was not speculation, but was based on an official statement from Royal Caribbean received at 5.38 pm BST. Hope you managed to make your flight home.

  8. Johanne Percival 1 June 2011 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    My Nephew is on the ship with family.
    We’ve not heard anything as yet so can only assume he’s fine.

  9. michal p 1 June 2011 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    I used to work on that ship over 2 years ago, went to Gibraltar every fortnight. Lucky no one got killed

  10. Stephanie 1 June 2011 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    My parents are on the princess cruise ship that is anchoring… THANK YOU for the update, I was freaking out…

  11. natalie lowe 13 June 2011 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    i was on the ship at the time of the explosion. was on deck 12 when heard a loud bang and saw a puff of black smoke. was absolutely terrified as thought it was the ship. everybody onboard was frightened and got off the top deck safely. can honestly say if it had been 30 minutes earlier myself and a friend were boarding the ship from gibralter we could have been seriously injured. hope those who were injured are ok now tho. what a frightening experience.

  12. Katie 4 February 2012 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    I was aboard of the Independence of the seas when i saw a wall of black smoke coming to words me i was shocked.At first I thought it was the ship as we were just about to leave Gibraltar. Parents were screaming, children crying at the poolside it was horrific!

  13. kayla 25 November 2012 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    My friend was there and she said that she saw a guy smoking thrown it at the tank

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