Firefighters struggle to put out the flames on a luxury motor ship off the Azores

The ship, Felicity Ice, was traveling from Emden, Germany, where the Volkswagen plant is located, to Davisville, in the US state of Rhode Island, burning over 100 kilometers from the Azores, Portugal, February 18, 2022. Portuguese Navy (Marinha Portuguesa)/ Bulletin via Reuters/File Photo

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LISBON (Reuters) – Firefighters struggled to put out a fire that broke out on Wednesday on a ship carrying thousands of luxury cars off the coast of Portugal’s Azores islands, a port official said, adding that it was not clear yet. When will they succeed?

The Felicity Ace, which was carrying about 4,000 vehicles including Porsche, Audi and Bentley, some electric with lithium-ion batteries, caught fire in the mid-Atlantic on Wednesday. The 22 crew members were evacuated on the same day. Read more

“The intervention (to put out the fire) must be done very slowly,” Joao Mendes Cabicas, captain of the nearest port on Faial island, told Reuters late on Saturday. “It will take some time.”

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The lithium-ion batteries in onboard electric cars “keep the fire burning,” Kabekas said, adding that specialized equipment to put it out is on the way.

It was not clear if the batteries started the fire.

Volkswagen, which owns the brands, has not confirmed the total number of cars on board and said on Friday it was waiting for more information. Ship Manager Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd (9104.T) He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Kabekas had previously said that “everything caught fire five meters above the water line” and that the flames were still far from the ship’s fuel tanks. He said she is getting close.

“The fire spread to the bottom,” he said, explaining that the teams could only tackle the fire from the outside by cooling the ship’s hull as boarding was too dangerous.

They also can’t use water because the increased weight on the ship can make it more stable, Cabesas said, and traditional water extinguishers don’t prevent lithium-ion batteries from burning.

The Panama-flagged ship will be towed to a country in Europe or the Bahamas, but it is unclear when that will happen.

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Catarina Dimon reports in Lisbon; Additional reporting by Victoria and Al-Dursi in Berlin. Editing by Barbara Lewis

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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