Kuala Lumpur Post

World

Strong winds delay salvage of burning ship off Dutch coast

WEST-TERSCHELLING (Netherlands) — Strong winds yesterday delayed the salvage of a cargo ship packed with electric vehicles that caught fire off the Dutch coast, officials said, as fears of an ecological disaster persist.

The smouldering Fremantle Highway, where an electric car is suspected to have sparked the deadly blaze late Tuesday, may not be moved to a new location for several more days, the national water management agency Rijkswaterstaat said.

The fire has diminished, but a change in winds has now engulfed the rescue tug designated to tow the vessel in smoke, posing health and safety risks for the crew.

The agency has said that “no direct consequences” were expected for the surrounding environment from the blaze.

The ship remains close to Terschelling and Ameland, which are part of an archipelago of ecologically sensitive islands in the Wadden Sea.

“We can be a bit more optimistic but the risk is still there,” said Manfred Santen with Greenpeace Germany, who visited the site Saturday and noted the “really terrible” odour being emitted.

The impact of chemicals released from the plastics and materials burning in the cars remain a concern, he said, particularly on micro-organisms and other species on the low end of the food chain which birds and fish rely on.

Japan-based K Line, the ship’s charter company, reported there were 3,783 cars on board the vessel, including 498 “electrical vehicle units”.

One sailor died after he and 22 others were rescued from the burning ship that had forced some crew members to jump overboard. — AFP

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