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Zim container ship burns off coast of Canada

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No injuries reported in blaze on MV Zim Kingston; 10 containers on board vessel charted by Israeli shipping giant said to catch fire; 40 others units topple into sea in storm

A fire burned for hours in several containers aboard a cargo ship charted by Israeli giant Zim Integrated Shipping Services as it lay off Canada’s Pacific coast province of British Columbia on Sunday.

The Canadian Coast Guard said it received word late Saturday morning that a fire had broken out in 10 damaged containers aboard the MV Zim Kingston, which is now anchored about five miles (eight kilometers) off the provincial capital of Victoria, and that two of the burning containers contain hazardous material identified as potassium amylxanthate. The compound is used in the mining industry.

The coast guard noted that the ship itself is not on fire, but said an emergency zone has been set up for one nautical mile around the Zim Kingston, adding that there is currently no safety risk to people on shore.

“No injuries were reported. The fire appears to have been contained,” Danaos Shipping Co, the company that manages the container ship, said in an emailed statement.

The Joint Rescue and Coordination Centre in Victoria said 16 crew members had been safely taken off the ship, while five others, including the captain, remain on board at their own behest.

Canadian Coast Guard spokeswoman Michelle Imbeau said an Incident Command Post led by the Coast Guard on behalf of the federal and British Columbia’s governments, as well as First Nations representatives, was coordinating a multi-agency response to the incident.

Videos of the fire were shared on social media. They showed the fire forward of the middle section of the ship and a long plume of smoking rising into the air.

She said the Command Post was also working with the US Coast Guard to monitor 40 containers that fell overboard from the Zim Kingston in choppy waters on Friday, and were floating about 12 nautical miles (22.22 kilometers) off the west coast of Vancouver Island, near Bamfield, British Columbia.

The Coast Guard said the containers, some of which contain hazardous material, pose a significant risk to mariners, and that, with stormy weather in Sunday’s forecast, recovering them may be a challenge.

It said a Hazmat crew from Vancouver is mobilizing and that the owner of the Zim Kingston has contracted the US-based Resolve Marine Group for salvage operations, including fire fighting as well as the recovery of the containers.

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