A general cargo ship Purple Beach has been burning in the North Sea off Germany’s coast since Monday, and it is feared that the fire that started in one of its cargo holds might lead to an explosion, the Central Command for Maritime Emergencies (CCME) reports.
CCME Cuxhaven established a 5-mile security zone around the vessel as a precaution should the vessel explode. There is currently no reported damage to the surrounding areas.
The crew of the 1998-built freighter noticed smoke coming from one of the cargo holds on Monday evening, while the ship was en route from Immingham, UK, to Brake, Germany, to deliver a load of fertilizers. The cargo hold was immediately sealed off and the on board extinguishing system activated.
The crew reportedly initially managed to contain the fire, but not extinguish it completely, as the fire broke out again on Tuesday, emitting toxic smoke and gasses.
The crew of 22 and 14 firefighters sent to assist the vessel were airlifted to local hospitals. No injuries have been reported so far.
Purple Beach is currently anchored some 17 nautical miles southwest of Helgoland.
A cloud of smoke from the burning ship has reached Cuxhaven and Bremerhaven, CCME reports. The smoke is reportedly not toxic, although local residents were asked to keep their windows and doors closed. Aircraft are currently trying to push the clouds of smoke back to the sea with water sprays.
World Maritime News Staff; Images: CCME