Cyprus: Empty oil tanker catches fire; 5 crew rescued

Cyprus authorities say five crew members of a Maltese-flagged oil tanker who jumped overboard to avoid a fire aboard the ship have been rescued and taken to hospital

NICOSIA, Cyprus -- A Maltese-flagged oil tanker caught fire and ran aground near a fishing village, forcing several crew members to jump overboard, Cypriot authorities said Saturday.

Cyprus' Joint Rescue Coordination Center said the fire aboard the tanker Athlos was extinguished soon after it broke out. Five crew members were rescued from the water and taken to the hospital.

Three of them were later released, but two remained for treatment of serious burns.

The Center said the empty tanker issued a distress call Saturday following an explosion and fire onboard shortly after setting sail from Larnaca port some 3.5 miles off the village of Zygi.

The vessel had run aground 200 meters from shore near Zygi.

The tanker, with 17 crew members including 7 Greeks, 9 Indians and a Georgian, was heading to the Greek port of Aspropyrgos.

Cyprus' authorities have mobilized to contain any potential pollution from the tanker.