The fire that broke out on the giant Liberian flagged boxship APL Austria while sailing off South Africa has been contained, but its situation is still being closely monitored, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) informed in an update.
The fire broke out on Sunday afternoon in one of the ship’s holds while the containership was sailing 30 nautical miles South-West of Cape St Francis – some 50-70 kilometers west of the city of Port Elizabeth.
“It appears that the fire in the hold has been extinguished but the space has not been deemed safe to enter as yet. There are still smouldering containers on deck which are being fought by the fire brigade, a harbour tug is providing boundary cooling. Containers with hazardous cargo are being removed from the area around the fire,” SAMSA Centre for Shipping Executive Head, Captain Nigel Campbell said on Tuesday afternoon.
“The Joint Operations Committee sits shortly to monitor progress against the plan,” he added.
The 71, 867-ton container carrier had to be diverted back to the port of Ngqurha on Sunday night in order for firefighting to be conducted both on board and outside the vessel with the help of the Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) tugs.
Once the ship anchored, efforts were made to remove some of the cargo on board to safety and the 21 crew members were evacuated. One of the crew members was treated by paramedics for a leg injury and he is in a stable condition, South Africa’s Sea Rescue charity informed.
The fire broke out in the ship’s No.4 cargo hold, however, the cause of the fire is yet to be determined.