(CNN) Search efforts are underway for three missing crew members after a Gabon-registered oil tanker caught fire off the coast of southern Malaysia, Malaysian maritime authorities said in a statement.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said they received an alert at 4pm local time Monday of a tanker on fire, about 37.5 nautical miles northeast of the coastal region of Tanjung Sedili in Johor state.
The tanker was sailing from China to Singapore with 28 crew members when it caught fire, MMEA said.
A naval patrol boat was sent to the scene to rescue the passengers, MMEA added. “Fortunately, 23 crew members were rescued by two ships in the vicinity,” said MMEA director First Admiral Nurul Hizam Zakaria.
“While we managed to rescue two crew members, three are still missing,” he added.
“Ongoing operations include investigations to determine whether the trio abandoned the tanker and jumped overboard, or were trapped.”
Maritime authorities in neighboring Singapore said they were broadcasting alerts to nearby vessels to look out for the three missing crew members. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore recognized the tanker MT Pablo.
Videos showed the tanker burning, with large plumes of black smoke rising into the air. Other ships were seen nearby.
It is currently unclear if there have been any widespread effects on the environment.