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Cargo ship catches fire after dozens of shipping containers fell off

There go your Christmas gifts! Cargo ship catches fire after dozens of shipping containers fell off during ‘bomb cyclone’ in Canadian waters

  • About 40 shipping containers fell from vessel off Vancouver on Friday
  • Then fire broke out among damaged containers that remained on board
  • US Coast Guard is tracking 35 lost containers floating in the Pacific
  • Two of the lost containers are carrying dangerous spontaneous combustibles
  • Crew have been advised to abandon ship; fire cannot be fought with water 


Dozens of shipping containers have fallen from a ship into Canadian waters, and the cargo ship carrying them has caught ablaze amid the damage caused by a ‘bomb cyclone’. 

Up to 40 shipping containers fell into the Pacific off Vancouver early on Friday morning, when the vessel Zim Kingston hit rough waters 43 miles west of the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

Then on Saturday morning, a fire broke out in the ship’s cargo area, believed to be caused by damage to the remaining shipping containers, the US Coast Guard said. 

The Coast Guard is now tracking 35 containers adrift at sea, and says that two of them are confirmed to contain hazardous flammable material.

Dozens of shipping containers have fallen from a ship into Canadian waters during a ‘bomb cyclone’, and the cargo ship carrying them has caught ablaze amid the damage

Zim Kingston hit rough waters 43 miles west of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, losing dozens of containers. A blaze was sparked in the damaged cargo area

Zim Kingston hit rough waters 43 miles west of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, losing dozens of containers. A blaze was sparked in the damaged cargo area

The Coast Guard is now tracking 35 containers adrift at sea, and says that two of them are confirmed to contain hazardous flammable material

The Coast Guard is now tracking 35 containers adrift at sea, and says that two of them are confirmed to contain hazardous flammable material

‘Two of the containers have been identified as carrying spontaneous combustibles,’ Petty Officer 3rd Class Diolanda Caballero told the Vancouver Sun. 

‘They are currently drifting north but we can’t predict which way they will go because of the heavy weather. The bomb cyclone is around that area,’ she said. 

Photos showed smoke billowing and flames leaping from the side of the ship. 

Radio communications indicate that the crew, including the captain, has been advised to abandon ship by Canadian authorities. 

‘The advice is that you abandon, completely abandon, including all crew and captain,’ a Canadian Coast Guard official was heard broadcasting to the ship.  

Containers which fell overboard from the ship Zim Kingston are seen floating west of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, off the west coast of British Columbia

Containers which fell overboard from the ship Zim Kingston are seen floating west of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, off the west coast of British Columbia

'Two of the containers have been identified as carrying spontaneous combustibles,' said Petty Officer 3rd Class Diolanda Caballero

‘Two of the containers have been identified as carrying spontaneous combustibles,’ said Petty Officer 3rd Class Diolanda Caballero

However, a response from the ship indicated that the crew wanted to continue to battle the fire, and it was not immediately clear whether the crew abandoned ship. 

Canadian Coast Guard advised that due to the nature of the combustibles on board the vessel, tugs deployed to fight the fire are not to use water on the blaze. 

The Zim Kingston is a Maltese-flagged containership built in 2008, with capacity for 4,253 twenty-foot containers. 

It had departed from Busan, South Korea bound for North America. 

Radio communications indicate that the crew, including the captain, has been advised to abandon ship by Canadian authorities

Radio communications indicate that the crew, including the captain, has been advised to abandon ship by Canadian authorities

However, a response from the ship indicated that the crew wanted to continue to battle the fire, and it was not immediately clear whether the crew abandoned ship

However, a response from the ship indicated that the crew wanted to continue to battle the fire, and it was not immediately clear whether the crew abandoned ship

The ship is now anchored in Constance Bank, in the Straits of Juan de Fuca off Victoria. 

The containers on the ship were lost in rough seas due to a a strong low pressure system that was at hurricane force at times with seas up to 30 feet. 

A storm is considered a bomb cyclone when its minimum air pressure drops 24 millibars or more within 24 hours, known as bombogenesis.  

Between 2008 and 2016, an average of 568 containers were lost per year worldwide, according to a study commissioned by The World Shipping Council.

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