A German-owned multipurpose vessel with a cargo of fertiliser had to be evacuated in the North Sea after a fire broke out in one of its holds, according to the German Central Command for Maritime Emergencies.
The 33,772 dwt Purple Beach, which is owned and operated by liner operator MACS on its US Gulf/northern Europe service, is currently anchored in the German Bay north of Wilhelmshaven after its 22 crew members were flown out to a hospital for treatment of toxic gas inhalation, although no one was said to be in serious condition.
Five tugs, rescue, and pollution control vessels have been deployed to the scene to assist in fire-fighting operations. The affected cargo hold was immediately locked and the ship’s CO2 extinguishing system activated when the crew detected the blaze on the evening of 26 May, but thick smoke continues to billow from the vessel, the Central Command said.
A 5 km exclusion zone has been set up around the ship due to the risk of chemical reactions and explosions, it added.
Authorities are trying to establish the cause of the blaze and establish a fire-fighting strategy.