THE HAGUE – A cargo ship filled with automobiles burned near a world-renowned hen habitat off the Dutch coast Thursday as firefighters and salvage crews waited for the flames from a hearth that began greater than a day earlier to subside earlier than making an attempt to board the vessel.

The Fremantle Freeway was crusing from the German port of Bremerhaven to Singapore when it caught fireplace within the North Sea shortly earlier than midnight Tuesday about 27 kilometers (17 miles) north of the Dutch island of Ameland, sparking fears of an environmental catastrophe.

One crew member died and others have been injured early Wednesday. The whole crew, made up of 21 Indian nationals, has been evacuated from the ship. The reason for the fireplace hasn’t been established.

The coast guard of the Netherlands mentioned “the situation at the moment is stable.” The company launched a photograph after a flyover Thursday that confirmed smoke nonetheless pouring from the ship and drifting low over the slate-gray sea.

The coast guard mentioned late Thursday afternoon that crews have been utilizing the tide to show the ship so it could “drift east again with the support of a tugboat.” The maneuver would enable the ship to proceed floating between two transport lanes and stay some 16 kilometers (10 miles) off the Dutch coast.

“Because of the wind and current, it is not possible to keep the ship in one place,” the company mentioned.

The Japanese-owned ship is near a sequence of islands and the World Heritage-listed Wadden Sea, an necessary habitat for migratory birds.

The Dutch coast guard mentioned Wednesday that the vessel was carrying 2,857 automobiles, together with 25 electrical automobiles. Some studies Thursday urged there is likely to be greater than that, however the coast guard mentioned it couldn’t present affirmation.

The U.S. Nationwide Transportation Security Board has warned concerning the potential risks of electrical automobile battery fires, The hazard stems from thermal runaway, a chemical response that causes uncontrolled battery temperature and strain will increase.

German Atmosphere Minister Steffi Lemke mentioned she could not rule out the opportunity of the burning ship sinking.

“A totally normal car transport by sea could turn into an environmental catastrophe of unknown proportions,” Lemke mentioned in a press release. “This fills me with deep concern.”

She mentioned that if the ship sinks, “large quantities of fuel and other environmentally harmful pollutants from the cargo ship’s load could contaminate the sensitive ecosystem of the North Sea extensively. The unique Wadden Sea National Park is in serious danger. That must be prevented with all our resources.”

The burning vessel had been drifting west toward the island of Terschelling and slowly heading away from Borkum, the westernmost of the German East Frisian islands. Germany sent a ship that doused the sides of the Fremantle Highway with water on Wednesday to keep it as cool as possible.

The coast guard said that was no longer happening “because unnecessary amounts of water must be prevented from getting on board. This endangers the stability of the ship.” It said the fire was burning more intensely when the ship was cooled Wednesday.

The Netherlands on Wednesday sent a ship equipped with special booms to contain oil spills to the area as a precaution.

Infrastructure and Waterways Minister Mark Harbers said in a letter to lawmakers that if there is a leak, the “current and anticipated wind and wave direction for the coming days are such that any contamination will spread to the north, and therefore not to the Wadden Islands.”

The fire in the North Sea isn’t the first to break out in a car-carrying cargo ship.

Earlier this month, it took firefighters nearly a week to extinguish a similar blaze in a car transport ship in Newark, New Jersey. Two firefighters were killed and five others were injured battling the flames.

In March 2022, a large cargo vessel carrying cars from Germany to the United States sank in the mid-Atlantic, 13 days after a fire broke out on board. The Felicity Ace sank about 400 kilometers (250 miles) off Portugal’s Azores Islands as it was being towed after a salvage team had put out the fire.


Related Press author Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.

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