AMELAND, Netherlands — The cargo ship that caught fire off the coast of the Netherlands shortly before midnight local time on Tuesday reportedly had Mercedes-Benz Group (OTCPK: MBGYY) and BMW (OTCPK: BMWYY) vehicles onboard.
The Fremantle Highway had 23 people on board and was traveling to Singapore from Bremerhaven. The ship caught fire near the Dutch island of Ameland, killing one crew member. The remaining people onboard were evacuated.
“Though the Netherland coast guard has not ascertained the cause of the fire, it could have been due to one of the EVs onboard,” said a coast guard official to Dutch news agency ANP.
A Bloomberg report pegs the number of automobiles on the ship near 3,800 — some of which were made by Mercedes-Benz and BMW. However, only 25 of these were electric, the report added.
“We get a lot of questions about the exact number of electric cars aboard the Fremantle Highway. Our previous reporting is based on the first cargo list we received. There are now several numbers going around, which we cannot confirm,” said The Netherlands coast guard.
Reporting on the Guardian, The ship’s owner said an electric car in the cargo was suspected as a possible cause for the blaze. “We are now trying to extinguish the fire in cooperation with the local authorities of [the] Netherlands, the salvor and the ship management company,” said Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd In a statement. Rescue ships were spraying water on to the burning vessel to cool it down, but using too much water risked its sinking, however, a salvage vessel was hooked on to stop the ship from drifting.
“The fire could still burn for days, the ship is being cooled to keep it stable. Only the side of the ship is being sprayed, not the deck.” a coastguard official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP. “
The coastguard said the Fremantle Highway, which had left from the port of Bremerhaven, had been towed out of shipping lanes and could sink. It is now close to Ameland, one of four ecologically sensitive Frisian islands, situated in the Waddenzee area just north of the Dutch mainland. The area has been declared a Unesco world heritage site and has a rich diversity of more than 10,000 aquatic and terrestrial species. This includes more than 140 species of fish, of which about 20 spend their entire life in the tidal areas along the islands’ famous mud flats. Should the Fremantle Highway sink, “it would be a disaster of the highest order”, said the daily tabloid De Telegraaf on Guardian News.
Molenaar of the Royal Dutch Rescue Company (KNRM), told NOS some people were injured making the long jump into the water, while one crew member had died in the flames.
A helicopter airlifted the remaining people from the 23-strong crew off the burning ship. The injured crew were being treated for breathing problems, burns, and broken bones, local Dutch authorities said.The fire was the latest of several in recent times on car carriers.
Produced in association with Benzinga
Edited by Eunice Anyango Oyule and Judy J. Rotich