Burning cargo ship is stable, but the fire is still not out

The ship on fire last week. Photo: Kustwachtvliegtuig

The situation on board the burning cargo ship off the coast of Ameland is stable on Thursday morning but the freighter is still on fire and still drifting, the coastguard has said.

The ship is still extremely hot because of the blaze, but later this morning experts hope to check if the temperature has dropped at all and if the salvage team can board to check the status of the fire, broadcaster NOS reported.

Ameland mayor Leo Peter Stoel said he is extremely concerned about the risk of the vessel capsizing. If this happens, part of the cargo of 3,783 cars will drift toward the Wadden Islands, which are a protected environment.

Stoel said it is important to pay greater attention to the risks associated with cargo ships moving so close to the islands. “We have raised this issue before, and the dangers this shipping route brings,” he said on Wednesday evening.

Dutch shipping organisation KVNR has also called for tougher rules for the transport of electric cars by boat. The fire is thought to have started in one of the small number of electric vehicles on board.

“Last year there was a similar situation in the middle of the ocean, where the ship burned out completely and sank,” chairman Jan Valkier said.

The UN’s International Maritime Organisation is currently working on new rules but as yet it is unclear when they will be finalised.

The coastguard said on Wednesday it could take days, or even weeks to make sure the fire on the Freemantle Highway is completely out.

The 23 crew members on board the Panamanian-flagged ship attempted to put out the fire themselves, but the blaze spread too fast. Specialised firefighters were brought in from Rotterdam but the situation had already become too dangerous by the time they arrived.

Seven of the crew jumped into the sea and were picked up by nearby ships. The remaining crew members were rescued by helicopter but one crew member was killed.

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