NICOSIA, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- Two members of a Malta-flagged tanker suffered burns and were being hospitalized in Nicosia after an explosion on Saturday morning caused a fire aboard the vessel, Cypriot police said in a statement.
It said that the Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) received an urgent call by the ship's captain at 9:30 a.m. that the explosion occurred as the ship was three nautical miles off the south shores of Cyprus and 20 kilometers to the east of the port city Limassol.
JRCC said it applied a national search and rescue plan, mobilizing the marine police, naval forces and fire-fighting ships as well as rescue teams.
"Rescue vessels picked up five crew members who jumped into the sea. Two crew members with serious burns were taken to hospital in Nicosia while three others were taken to hospital in Limassol as a precautionary measure," JRCC said.
The tanker, named "Athlos", was on its way from Larnaca, Cyprus, to a refinery near Athens, with a crew of 17 -- seven Greeks, nine Indians and one Georgian.
The nationality of those injured was not immediately known.
Police said the crew managed to put the fire out before fire-fighting vessels arrived, and then beached the vessel 200 meters from the shore, close to a fishing port and a naval base.
Media reports said the captain of the ship refused to allow tugs to tow the ship.
The extent of the damage to the ship was not immediately known. Cypriot marine police and investigators boarded the ship to probe the cause of the explosion.