Pretoria: 15 February 2017
Work to salvage the last batch of about 32 containers in hatch No4 of the fire ravaged Liberian flagged cargo vessel currently docked at the port of Ngqurha was due to begin on Wednesday morning, on condition that the fire in the hold had been successfully extinguished, the South African Maritime Authority (SAMSA) reported on Tuesday night.
According to SAMSA, fires in the lower hold No4 of the APL Austria vessel had already been extinguished except for two containers in the cargo holding area that had been packed with candles and which had since melted into wax.
This was despite the No4 cargo hold having filled with water equivalent the height of four containers as result of firefighting efforts that began on board the vessel on Sunday afternoon on the eastern ocean of South Africa, some 30 nautical miles south west of country’s world reknowned surfing mecca, Jeffrey’s Bay.
At the time, according to SAMSA, the 280 metres wide and 72 000 ton cargo carrier was headed west towards the Cape Peninsula.
After reporting the blaze on board, SAMSA’s Maritime Rescue Co-ordinating Centre (MRCC) based in Cape Town, redirected the vessel back to the port of Port Elizabeth and eventually its current anchor alongside the port of Ngqurha, some 30 kilometres east of Nelson Mandela Bay, where rescue operations continued including the safe evacuation of its entire crew.
On Tuesday night SAMSA reported that as many as 281 containers had been removed from the vessel and that to maintain ongoing stability of the situation, containers forward and aft of No.4 cargo hold on deck were also being discharged to create working space and a fire-break on deck, while contents of burnt damaged containers which were discharged were being de-stuffed into skips ashore.
Burned damaged containers would be moved off site as from Wednesday, said SAMSA. Meanwhile, firefighting services remained on site including TNPA tugs are boundary cooling and on standby.