The South African Maritime Authority (SAMSA) has released photos from the fire-stricken boxship APL Austria showing the firefighting operations and scorched containers from the ship.
According to SAMSA, fires in the lower hold No4 of the ship have been extinguished except for two containers in the cargo holding area that had been packed with candles and which had since melted into wax.
Work to salvage the last batch of about 32 containers in the hatch was scheduled to begin on Wednesday morning, on condition that the fire in the hold had been successfully extinguished.
On Tuesday night SAMSA reported that as many as 281 containers had been removed from the vessel and that to maintain ongoing stability of the situation, containers forward and aft of No.4 cargo hold on deck were also being discharged to create working space and a fire-break on deck. The contents of burnt containers which were discharged were re-stuffed into skips ashore, while damaged containers are to be moved off site today.
Meanwhile, firefighting services remain on site including the Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) tugs.
The fire broke out on Sunday afternoon while the containership with 21 crew onboard was 30 nautical miles South-West of Cape St Francis – some 50-70 kilometers west of the city of Port Elizabeth.
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.
Once the ship anchored, efforts were made to remove some of the cargo on board to safety and the 21 crew members were evacuated.
Image Courtesy: SAMSA