London: A group of 20 Indian crew members, onboard a cargo ship off the Dutch coast that had caught fire last week, has been successfully rescued and returned home.
“20 Indian crew rescued from ship Fremantle Highway have safely returned to India over the past week. Thank Dutch authorities for their support & assistance as well as our sailors for their fortitude & courage through this difficult time,” the Indian Embassy in the Netherlands tweeted on Thursday.
An Indian died and several others jumped off to save themselves from the fire that erupted late on July 25 on the 199-metre Panama-registered Fremantle Highway as it was en route from Germany to Egypt.
The Embassy said that the “mortal remains of one crew member who unfortunately passed away are being repatriated”.
The embassy had earlier said that all possible assistance, including medical attention, was being extended to the Indian sailors in coordination with the Dutch authorities and the shipping company.
According to the BBC, the ship, carrying almost 4,000 cars in the North Sea, has been towed into port in the north-east of the Netherlands.
The Dutch coast guard stressed the cause of the fire on the 11-deck ship was unknown but an audio recording of one rescue worker said it had started in the battery of an electric vehicle and “it appears an electric vehicle exploded too”.
The fire started on an upper deck and while four of the ship’s decks were relatively undamaged in the hull, the eighth deck had partly collapsed because of the intensity of the fire, the BBC said quoting salvage experts.
For almost a week the fire burned aboard the ship, raising fears of an environmental disaster in the waters of the Wadden Sea, a World Heritage site.