By Aluta News
July 26, 2023
A coastguard on Wednesday reported that fire blazed on a ship off the Dutch coast with nearly 3,000 vehicles on board, killing one person and injuring several others.
The fire began on Tuesday night on the 199-metre Panama-registered Fremantle Highway, which was en route from Germany to Egypt, forcing several crew members to jump overboard.
Rescue ships had sprayed water onto the burning boat to cool it down, but using too much water risked its sinking, the Dutch coastguard said, a salvage vessel hooked on to stop it drifting.
Edwin Versteeg, a spokesperson for the Dutch Department of Waterways and Public Works said “the fire is most definitely still not controlled. It’s a very hard fire to extinguish, possibly because of the cargo the ship was transporting.’’
The coastguard said on its website that the cause of the fire was unknown, but a coastguard spokesperson had earlier told Reuters it began near an electric car.
The coastguard said the Fremantle, which had departed from the port of Bremerhaven, had been towed out of shipping lanes and could sink.
It was 27 km (17 miles) north of the Dutch island of Ameland when the fire started.
The fire spread so quickly that seven crew members jumped overboard, said Willard Molenaar of the Royal Dutch Rescue Company (KNRM), who was among the first at the scene.
However, Molenaar told Dutch broadcaster NOS some people were injured while jumping the long way down into the water, while one crew member had died in the flames.
“There was lot of smoke and the fire spread quickly, much faster than expected. The people on board had to get off quickly .We fished them out of the water.’’
A helicopter airlifted the remaining people from the 23-strong crew off the burning ship.
The injured were being treated for breathing problems, burns, and broken bones, local Dutch authorities said.
Coastguard spokesperson Edwin Granneman said salvage experts were trying to work out next steps for the burning boat.
Shoei Kisen, the Japanese ship leasing company that manages the Fremantle, said it was working with the Dutch authorities to extinguish the fire.
The incident was the latest of several fires in recent times on car carriers.
Earlier, two New Jersey firefighters were killed and five injured battling a blaze on a cargo ship carrying hundreds of vehicles.
A fire destroyed thousands of luxury cars on a ship off the coast of Portugal’s Azores islands in February 2022.