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Remaining crew members evacuated from burning container ship: USCG

Shipping containers are stacked at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in Halifax on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
January 06, 2019 - 11:30 AM

HALIFAX - All crew members have been evacuated from a large Halifax-bound container ship burning far off the city's coast, the U.S. Coast Guard said Sunday, noting that more support is on its way to help battle the blaze as the weather has taken a favourable turn.

The Yantian Express, now about 1,600 kilometres southeast from Halifax, has been on fire since Thursday, and heavy winds at sea over the past couple of days have prevented the crew from extinguishing it.

On Saturday evening, 11 "non-essential" crew were moved to the Smit Nicobar, an offshore support tug from Belgium that arrived on the scene Friday night, Chief Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Canup said.

Late Sunday morning, he said the remaining 12 crew members had been moved to the Smit Nicobar as well.

Weather conditions had improved by then, he said, and the Smit Nicobar, which is equipped with fire monitors, was working on fighting the fire. But Canup said based on reports he's received, the weather may turn rocky again Sunday evening.

He added that another tug, the Maersk Mobiliser from Newfoundland, is on its way to the scene with plans to tow the Yantian Express to Halifax.

"The coast guard is continuing to monitor and co-ordinate efforts to help with the situation," said Canup.

He said there is no further information on the status of the fire.

The 320-metre container ship was travelling from Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Halifax on Thursday when a fire started inside a container on the ship's forward deck.

The blaze then spread to several other containers, and coast guard officials in Boston received a call for help early Friday.

There were no reported injuries to the eight officers and 15 seafarers aboard the ship, which was built in 2002 and is capable of carrying 7,510 standard 20-foot containers.

On Saturday, a spokesman for international shipping company Hapag-Lloyd, which owns the Yantian Express, said it was still too early to assess damage to the ship or cargo. He could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2019
The Canadian Press

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