Freighter Evacuated Amid Explosion Fears

Purple Beach Fire
Image Courtesy of CCME

Published May 27, 2015 10:34 AM by Kathryn Stone

German emergency officials have evacuated the crew and rescue personnel from a North Sea freighter amid mounting concerns of an explosion onboard the vessel.

The 32,722 dwt Purple Beach was carrying fertilizer between the U.K. and Germany on Monday when crew members reported smoke in the ship’s hold. The fire was brought under control, but then reignited on Tuesday forcing the 22 man crew along with emergency personnel to abandon the 192 meter (630 foot) vessel. Authorities have stated that the vessel is still on fire Wednesday and that it is in danger of exploding.

However, in its latest press statement the Central Command for Maritime Emergencies Germany (CCME) has said that efforts to reduce smoke in the area have been successful and that the organization is working with the shipping company to adapt an existing firefighting plan to allow rescue crews back onboard the ship. Additionally, authorities have ordered all other vessels to avoid the 5 km radius surrounding the Purple Beach.

Currently, the freighter is located off the coast of Bremerhaven and residents of the German city have been warned to keep doors and windows locked to avoid harmful fumes. As of today 36 people have been hospitalized for inhaling toxic gas, though no life-threating symptoms have been reported.