Crew rescued after Dutch cargo ship catches fire in Baltic Sea

Photo: JR Shipping Harlingen
Photo: JR Shipping Harlingen

The crew of a Dutch-registered container vessel have been evacuated after it caught fire in the Baltic Sea.

All 15 crew members on board the Escape were safely rescued by another ship, the Kairit, after boarding a lifeboat just before 3am on Wednesday, the Latvian naval coastguard said.

The 168 metre-long vessel was heading from Lithuania to Latvia when a fire broke out in the engine room. It was carrying a ‘hazardous’ cargo of polymers and paint materials, but the coastguard said they had not caught fire.

Lieutenant Commander PÄ“teris Subbota, head of the coastguard’s Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Centre of the Coast Guard, told Latvian Radio that the vessel appeared to be in ‘relatively good condition’.

‘What we see are burn marks or soot marks on the hull of the ship, so we can conclude that the fire tried to escape either through the ventilation shafts or through the chimneys, but fortunately did not ignite the hull itself and died out naturally,’ he said.

The unmanned ship is currently drifting in the Gulf of Riga, but the coastguard has warned it could catch fire again. Two tugs have been dispatched and are expected to reach it before it runs aground.

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