The cargo ship Zim Kingston piled high with containers anchored about 5 miles offshore from Victoria, British Columbia, after losing 40 containers Friday in the gigantic storm east of Vancouver Island, caught fire Saturday and around 6 p.m. Canadian authorities have advised the crew to abandon ship.
The Victoria-based lifeboat Cape Calvert and firefighting tugs were standing by near the stricken ship to assess the unfolding situation and monitor the safety of the crew.
The fire was caused by a combustible chemical powder spilling from containers that were damaged in the Friday night storm as the ship, arriving from South Korea, approached the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
A navigation warning has been sent to all ships in the area, a one-mile exclusion zone was in effect around the container ship in the vicinity of Constance Bank “due to danger of falling containers.”
“The ship is on fire and expelling toxic gas. Two fallen containers are floating in the vicinity of the vessel,” the warning said.
A Canadian Coast Guard surveillance aircraft circled overhead Saturday afternoon, while smoke billowed from the ship and radio communications indicated a fire spreading out of the crew’s control.
The crew has been imperiled and is still at risk. Maritime Laws are in place to reduce the dangers of maritime employment. In this case significant investigations will be needed to get to the bottom of what went wrong and who is responsible. Then, crew can be compensated justly for the dangers they have faced.
This story is not over yet. We can only hope there will be no loss of life or further significant other losses incurred in the incident.