Locals kick up stink as fertilizer onboard boxship blazes

London: The risks of carrying fertilizer, a highly flammable cargo, have once again been demonstrated. A containership is ablaze in the North Sea, the crew evacuated early this morning, and fears are growing that the ship might sink if an explosion happens.

The Purple Beach containership (built 1998; 33,722 dwt) caught fire two days ago 17 nautical miles southwest of Heligoland, a small German archipelago in the North Sea. The fire in the hold was put out, before it sprang back yesterday. Three salvage ships were deployed to assist the ship. A total of 36 people, including 22 crew and some firefighters, were taken to hospital for gas poisoning. No one was seriously injured.

The German population living near the ship have been warned about possible air pollution floating their way. Just over 1,000 people live on this windswept set of islands.

The Marshall Islands-flagged vessel is now deemed too dangerous to board. A spokesperson for the flag told Splash the incident was still under investigation.

The ship, which belongs to short sea operator Macs Shipping, was carrying fertilizer from the UK to Germany.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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