1 dead, 16 injured after cargo ship catches fire off Dutch coast
A cargo ship transporting thousands of cars from Germany to Egypt caught fire in the North Sea, approximately 30 kilometres north of the Netherlands, on Tuesday night, resulting in one death and 16 injuries among the crew.
Ship catches fire 30 kilometres north of Ameland
The 200-metre-long Fremantle Highway had set off from Bremerhaven in Germany, heading for Port Said in Egypt and carrying almost 3.000 cars - 25 of which were electric. A fire broke out on board just before midnight on Tuesday, July 25, as the ship was passing near the Dutch coast, 27 kilometres north of the island of Ameland.
The scale and severity of the blaze led to seven crew members abandoning ship in a safe and controlled manner. Luckily, all were successfully rescued by the emergency services. The remaining workers were evacuated by helicopter or boat, and taken to nearby hospitals for treatment after suffering from respiratory problems as a result of the smoke. Tragically, the fire resulted in the death of one crew member.
Dutch Coast Guard assessing how to extinguish the blaze
A spokesperson for the Coast Guard has speculated that the fire likely started in one of the 25 electric cars on board, before quickly spreading to the other vehicles, NOS reports. While all on board have been evacuated, the fire on the Fremantle Highway rages on. Emergency teams are currently assessing the situation in order to determine how to extinguish the blaze.
According to the Coast Guard’s live updates, as of 9.06am on Wednesday the ship “is still on fire”, with “several parties such as recovery companies and Rijkswaterstaat looking at the best possible way to limit the damage as much as possible.” As the ship is already listing to one side, experts fear there is a real possibility that any attempts to put out the fire could result in the Fremantle Highway sinking.
"The cargo ship is currently connected to another ship with a cable to ensure that it remains in place," a Coast Guard spokesperson told NU. "It is being examined whether another ship can dock, so that the freighter can possibly be towed away." The mayor of Ameland, Leo Pieter Stoel, worries that, if the ship sinks, it could have significant environmental consequences for Ameland and the other Wadden Islands: “It is a World Heritage area and that could be damaged if very strange, toxic products were to end up in it."
Thumb via Kustwacht Nederland.