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The crew of eight officers and 15 seafarers on Hapag-Lloyd’s fire-stricken Yantian Express have been taken off the vessel as efforts to bring the blaze under control have failed.

Fire broke out in one of the 7,500 teu vessel’s containers on Thursday and the crew’s initial efforts to put it out were hampered by bad weather.

Over the weekend, weather conditions worsened and the fire grew more dangerous, the company said in a statement today.

“Due to bad weather conditions, the fire has not been successfully contained and has significantly increased in intensity.

“Despite firefighting support from the salvage tug Smit Nicobar, the fire has not been extinguished yet.”

The crew were transferred to the Smit Nicobar over the weekend, said the line.

“Further developments of the situation on the Yantian Express are being monitored closely, and the firefighting efforts with the salvage tug are ongoing.

“At this time, it is not possible to make a precise estimate of any damage to Yantian Express or its cargo. Hapag-Lloyd remains in close cooperation with all relevant authorities,” the company added.

The 2002-built vessel is 320 meres long and sails under a German flag in THE Alliance’s East Coast Loop 5 (EC5) service, which connects South-east Asia with the east coast of North America, and was on its way from Colombo to Halifax via the Suez Canal.

Hapag-Lloyd said the ship was currently around 800 nautical miles off the coast of Canada, and AIS data from vesselsvalue.com lists it as currently “not under command”.

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