Three crew members have died after entering a hold on a handysize bulker off the Philippines.

Domestic media cited the Philippine Coast Guard as saying the captain of the 32,600-dwt Blue Cecil (built 2004) had sought medical assistance on Friday evening.

The three seafarers were found unconscious by other crew members while the Marshall Islands-flag ship was off Bolinao in Pangasinan province in the north-east of the country.

They were declared dead by the ship’s duty doctor later that evening.

Manager Opal Ship Management told TradeWinds it was deeply saddened by the deaths.

The three seafarers had entered a hold while the ship was underway, the company explained.

Colleagues immediately initiated emergency procedures and the vessel's rescue team recovered the affected crew members shortly after.

“Despite the best efforts of the medically trained crew, they were unable to revive their three fellow seafarers,” Opal added.

The vessel was diverted to Manila, arriving on 9 December, and formalities were underway to release the bodies to the families.

“Opal Ship Management is in constant contact with the seafarer’s families, offering heartfelt condolences and support,” the company said.

Post-mortem examinations were being performed.

Crew members interviewed by authorities

The remaining seafarers have been interviewed by the relevant authorities as part of the ongoing investigations into this accident, Opal added.

The bulker was 149 nautical miles (275 km) offshore and en route to Singapore when the incident occurred.

A coast guard vessel, the BRP Malabrigo, was tasked with taking the bodies into the port of Manila.

The Blue Cecil had been travelling from Portland in the US, leaving on 13 November.

Insurance cover is provided by the UK P&I Club.

The vessel has no port state control detentions on its record.

The last safety inspection in Spain in July found one deficiency: an incorrect garbage management plan.