Sailor killed and 23 evacuated after 18,500-tonne cargo ship catches fire

An enormous vehicle carrier ship, the Panamanian-registered Fremantle Highway, caught fire off the Dutch coast, killing one crew member and injuring several others, according to the coastguard.

In total 23 crew members were rescued from the 18,500-tonne freighter, which was carrying more than 3,000 cars, in a daring rescue operation.

At least seven crew members leapt overboard and were recovered from the water, while the rest were evacuated to safety by rescue helicopters.

According to officials, there are a large number of injured crew members.

The Dutch coastguard said: “Around midnight the Coast Guard received a report that the Fremantle Highway is on fire.

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“The crew tried to put out the fire themselves, but failed. Unfortunately one person died and several others were injured.”

The event occurred roughly 17 miles (14.5 nautical miles) north of the northern island of Ameland, according to the coastguard. Images taken from the coast showed a long, grey smoke cloud drifting over the sea from the 650-foot ship.

All crew members were evacuated to the adjacent Dutch port of Lauwersoog after fruitless attempts to extinguish the fire on the large tanker on its way to Egypt.

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According to officials, the Fremantle Highway was still on fire, and emergency personnel were still on the scene near the burning ship.

The coastguard also noted that the ship was listing, which added to the complication of the situation.

According to the NOS national television, salvage vessels were positioned at the area, attempting to control the fire and prevent the ship from sinking.

Specialised firefighters from Rotterdam were deployed to the ship via helicopter, but the fire quickly grew out of control, making it dangerous to send the firefighters on board.

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According to NOS, a tug vessel succeeded in securing a cable to the distressed ship, preventing it from drifting and obstructing a crucial sailing route to Germany.

A coastguard official, speaking to NOS, mentioned that they are considering all possible scenarios.

The coastguard received reports of the ship catching fire around midnight.

The cargo ship was carrying 2,857 cars from Bremen, Germany, to Port Said, Egypt, including 25 electric cars. 

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