A container ship is ablaze off Germany (image for illustrative purposes only)
There are reports of a container ship carrying fertilizer ablaze in the North Sea near the coast of Germany, with three salvage vessels on station to provide assistance.
According to local media reports, the crew of the vessel Purple Beach have been evacuated, but local residents have been warned to prepare to evacuate their homes due to the risk of dangerous air pollution.
Authorities are concerned that the salvage tugs trying to extinguish the blaze aboard the vessel may be in danger is an explosion occurs. The ship has been deemed too dangerous to board.
In total, 36 people, including 22 crew and some firefighters, have thus far been hospitalised for gas poisoning.
The fire started two days ago in the hold of the vessel and was successfully suppressed by the ship’s crew, before burning out of control the following day, prompting the captain to issue an SOS and abandon ship.
The ship is now burning out of control 17 nautical miles southwest of Heligoland, a small German archipelago in the North Sea.
A spokesperson for the Marshal Islands ship registry, the vessels flag state, has said it is too early to speculate on the cause of the fire, but an investigation is underway.
The ship belongs to short sea operator Macs Shipping and was carrying fertilizer from the UK to Germany. The image above is for illustrative purposes only.