Vietnamese Consul General in Hong Kong Tran Thanh Huan (fifth from left) sees the sailors off. (Photo: VNA)

Hong Kong (VNA) – Nine sailors of Vietnamese oil tanker Aulac Fortune which caught fire off the coast of Hong Kong have returned home to welcome the traditional Lunar New Year (Tet).

Vietnamese Consul General in Hong Kong Tran Thanh Huan arrived at Chek Lap Kok International Airport to see the sailors off.

Earlier, from January 25-27, the Aulac Joint Stock Company – the owner of the ship - completed procedures to take 13 sailors, and nine relatives of three other crewmen who died in the incident, home.

According to Huan, funeral services will be held for the deceased following DNA tests from Hong Kong authorities. The General Consulate will continue support in visa granting for relatives of the dead sailors so that they can settle related procedures.

On January 8, an explosion on the vessel caused it to catch on fire while the 17,500-tonne tanker was preparing to be refueled about a kilometre south of Lamma Island.

At that time, there were 27 people on board, including 25 Vietnamese and two of the Hong Kong fuel supply vessel. Twenty-four people were saved while one died and two others missing.

After the search and rescue mission finished, Hong Kong authorities confirmed that three crewmen died in the incident, namely Tran Hoang Phong (born in 1986, from Nghe An province), Nguyen Van Cong (born in 1984, from Ben Tre province) and Pham The Dung (born in 1961, from Ho Chi Minh City).-VNA