A tragic incident occurred off the coast of the Netherlands, involving a cargo vessel named Fremantle Highway en route from Germany to Egypt with nearly 3,000 cars on board.
On Tuesday night, a major fire broke out on the 199-meter Panama-registered vessel, leading to devastating consequences.
One Indian crew member lost their life, and 20 others sustained injuries.
The Dutch coastguard has been alerted about the severity of the blaze, warning that it may continue for several days. Several crew members were compelled to jump overboard desperately to escape the inferno. The Indian Embassy in the Netherlands confirmed the death of the Indian national in a social media post.
“We are deeply saddened by the incident involving the ‘Fremantle Highway’ in the North Sea, resulting in the death of an Indian seafarer and injuries to the crew,” it said in a tweet on Wednesday.
According to the embassy’s statement, they are actively communicating with the family of the deceased crew member and providing the necessary support to facilitate the repatriation of the mortal remains back to India.
“Embassy is also in touch with the remaining 20 injured crew members, who are safe and receiving medical attention. All possible assistance is being extended in coordination with the Dutch authorities and the shipping company,” it said.
On Wednesday, the Dutch coastguard reported that rescue boats and helicopters were deployed to evacuate the 23 crew members from the ship. Before the rescue operation began, some crew members had already jumped into the water.
Pictures revealed the presence of grey smoke coming from the ship.
Concerns arose that the vessel might sink approximately 27 kilometers north of the Dutch island of Ameland. Ameland is located in the Wadden Sea, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its significance as a vital region for migratory birds worldwide.
According to Dutch national broadcaster NOS, The fire might have resulted from an electric car on board. As per the Dutch coastguard, Dutch firefighters are still battling the blaze on the cargo ship 16 hours after it began.
According to a spokesman, the fire might continue for hours, days, or weeks, and deploying firefighters on the ship remains unsafe.
“If you start filling the ship with water, you risk destabilizing it, which could tip it over,” spokesman Edwin Grammeman told NOS.
The coastguard received a distress call when the ship was approximately 30 kilometers from the Wadden Sea island of Ameland.
The 23 crew aboard the Panamanian-flagged ship tried to extinguish the fire, but it rapidly escalated beyond their control. According to Dutch News, despite bringing in specialized firefighters from Rotterdam, the situation had already become too dangerous when they arrived.
Seven crew members leaped into the sea and were rescued by nearby vessels, while helicopters were deployed to save the remaining crew members. As per the report, the cause of the individual’s death has not been clarified.
The authorities are now focusing on preventing the listing ship from sinking. A tugboat from the Wadden Islands water taxi service Rederij Noordgat could attach a rope to the Fremantle Highway and prevent it from drifting into shipping lanes.
Other boats are on standby to help pull the vessel safely.
(with PTI inputs)
For more trending stories, follow us on Telegram.