A fire that broke out on board the Zim Kingston container ship off the coast of Canada has been “stabilised”, the coast guard said, but continues to burn spewing out toxic substances.
The container ship is anchored five miles off the coast of Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, and most of its crew has been evacuated amid the stormy weather impacting the North American west coast.
The coast guard said the fire, which started on Saturday, had spread across 10 containers on the ship, although the vessel’s owner Danos Shipping had said only two were affected.
Sixteen crew members have been evacuated to safety, the Joint Rescue and Coordination Centre in Victoria said. Five others still remained on the vessel to help with firefighting measures.
It was reported that the hull of the ship — which was carrying more than 52 tonnes of chemicals — had been cooled overnight by a tugboat spraying it with water.
The Canadian Coast Guard insisted that there was no risk to the people on the shore, despite the toxic gases that were emanating from the ship.
Danos blamed the fire on “excessive listing due to extreme weather” and added that there were no injuries on the ship so far. “No injuries were reported. The fire appears to have been contained,” Danos Shipping said in a statement.
The Canadian Coast Guard said that the owner of the Zim Kingston had gotten in touch with the US-based Resolve Marine Group for salvage operations, including firefighting and recovery of the containers.
The shipping company also said that it had claims adjusters on board “to ensure that conditions are appropriate for the safe return of the vessel’s crew.”
Teams have been put in place to monitor the situation given the forecast of strong gales on Monday.
At least 40 containers were lost in the Pacific Ocean during the incident, Radio Canada reported.
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