January 4, 2019 / 2:40 PM / 8 months ago

Hapag Lloyd container ship battling fire off Canada's east coast

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German shipping line Hapag Lloyd said on Friday that it was trying to extinguish a fire on its Yantian Express container vessel off Canada’s east coast but was being hampered by bad weather.

A spokesman for Hapag Lloyd said the fire broke out on Thursday in a container on deck and spread to some other containers on the vessel, but the cause was not yet known.

The 7,519 twenty foot equivalent ship was on its way from Colombo, Sri Lanka to Halifax in Nova Scotia via the Suez Canal, and was currently sailing at a slow speed around 650 nautical miles off the east coast of Canada.

Strong winds meant attempts to extinguish the fire had to be halted on Friday, with the hope of restarting on Saturday, the spokesman said.

A second ship was nearby to support the Yantian Express and a tugboat was on its way to help spray the front end of the vessel, he said.

The crew of eight officers and 15 seafarers remained on board but were safe, the spokesman said.

“We are taking it very seriously,” he said. “The next steps hinge on weather conditions.”

The German-flagged ship was built in 2002 and is 320 meters long.

The fire follows another shipping incident this week when the Panamanian-flagged MSC ZOE container vessel lost part of its cargo in heavy seas off the Dutch and German coast.

Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Susan Fenton

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