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Ship carrying Mercedes cars catches fire off Dutch coast

The coast guard said the Fremantle, which had departed from the German port of Bremerhaven, had been towed out of shipping lanes and could sink. It was 27 km (17 miles) north of the Dutch island of Ameland when the fire started.

The fire spread so quickly that seven crew members jumped overboard, said Willard Molenaar of the Royal Dutch Rescue Company (KNRM), which was among the first at the scene.

Molenaar told Dutch broadcaster NOS some people were injured jumping the long way down into the water, while one crew member had died in the flames.

“There was lot of smoke and the fire spread quickly, much faster than expected,” he said. “The people on board had to get off quickly … We fished them out of the water.”

A helicopter airlifted the remaining people from the 23-member crew off the burning ship. The injured were being treated for breathing problems, burns, and broken bones, local Dutch authorities said.

Coast guard spokesperson Edwin Granneman said salvage experts were trying to work out the next steps for the burning ship.

Shoei Kisen, the Japanese ship leasing company that manages the Fremantle, said it was working with the Dutch authorities to extinguish the fire.

The 10-year-old ship, measuring about 200 meters (656 feet) in length, can carry as many as 4,000 cars, according to data compiled by Bloomberg

Car carrier fires

The incident was the latest of several fires in recent times on car carriers.

Earlier this month, two New Jersey firefighters were killed and five injured battling a blaze on a cargo ship carrying hundreds of vehicles.

A fire destroyed thousands of luxury cars on the Felicity Ace, which sank off the coast of Portugal’s Azores islands in March 2022.

Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report Ship carrying Mercedes cars catches fire off Dutch coast

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