A cargo ship that has been on fire since Tuesday near an island north of the Netherlands was still burning on Friday, the Dutch Coast Guard said, as it emerged that the vessel had been carrying significantly more electric vehicles than initially reported.
The cause of the fire aboard the ship, the Fremantle Highway, remains unclear. The 656-foot vessel was carrying about 3,000 vehicles, and while officials initially reported that it had 25 electric vehicles among them, Edwin Granneman, a spokesman for the Coast Guard, said on Friday that while he could not confirm an exact number, it was probably in the hundreds.
The Dutch newswire ANP reported that there were 498 electric vehicles on board, citing the ship charter company K Line.
One Fremantle Highway crew member died and 22 others were injured, officials said this week. After the ship started burning on Tuesday, some of the crew members jumped into the water and were rescued in lifeboats, according to the Coast Guard.
Initially, the crew members had tried to put out the fire themselves. “The fire kept spreading,” the Coast Guard wrote on its blog. Crew members were evacuated with the help of helicopters and lifeboats.
“The fire is still raging, and there is still a lot of smoke development,” the Coast Guard wrote in an update on Thursday night local time, adding that the intensity of the blaze seemed to be diminishing. As of Thursday night, it still was not safe to bring a salvage team onto the ship. The situation is stable, the Coast Guard said.
The ship is attached to a tugboat to make sure that it does not obstruct shipping routes and to make sure other ships can pass at a safe distance. The Fremantle Highway was on its way from the German port of Bremerhaven to Singapore.
The fire on the Fremantle Highway comes weeks after two firefighters died in a fire on an Italian cargo ship that was loaded with 1,200 vehicles at Port Newark in New Jersey. That fire burned for five days. In March of last year, a cargo ship that was carrying about 4,000 cars sank about 253 miles off the Azores after it burned for two weeks.