Burning vessel listing in Port of Cape Town

2016-11-06 18:46
The harbour tug Palmiet sprays water on the side of the fishing trawler Verano in the Cape Town harbour. (Hanlie Gouws, News24)

The harbour tug Palmiet sprays water on the side of the fishing trawler Verano in the Cape Town harbour. (Hanlie Gouws, News24)

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Cape Town – Firefighters have stopped spraying water into the holds of a fishing trawler that is on fire and listing heavily in the Port of Cape Town.

The Verano, a 41-year-old Russian-flagged factory ship, caught fire on Wednesday afternoon at berth 703 in the container terminal. All crew were evacuated.

After the vessel started listing to starboard on Saturday, firefighters were instructed to stop spraying water into the holds where the fire is raging, the South African Maritime Safety Authority's western region acting regional manager, Captain Gustav Louw, said.

The vessel was carrying 800 000 polystyrene containers, plastic rope, and other plastic gear that was causing thick black smoke. The fire is difficult to extinguish, Louw said.

"The vessel now seems stable and the harbour tugs are currently only doing boundary cooling. It is stable, but we remain concerned.

"We can't have firefighters on board right now. We also don't know if there was asbestos in the vessel, so it would only be possible to go on board with breathing apparatus once the fire is out."

The vessel had not been operational for three years and it was supposed to have gone to the dry dock for a service soon, Louw said.

The matter would be handed to a salvage company on orders from the harbour master. Talks would be held on Monday to decide the way forward. Only after the fire is out and the ship is stabilised can the damage and the cause of the fire be investigated and the ship's fate will then be decided.

Louw said the protection and indemnity insurance club for the vessel was cooperating in the matter and that there was insurance available in case of an oil spill.

Read more on:    cape town  |  fires  |  maritime accidents

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