Tugboat en route to tow burning container ship to Halifax: U.S. Coast Guard

HALIFAX An offshore tug and supply vessel is en route to a large Halifax-bound container ship burning 1,500 kilometres off the city's coast with plans to tow the vessel to its final destination, the U.S. Coast Guard said Sunday.

All 23 crew members have been evacuated from the Yantian Express, which has been on fire since Thursday.

While heavy winds at sea over the past couple of days prevented extinguishing efforts, Chief Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Canup said weather conditions were favourable enough Sunday afternoon to battle the blaze though he said the skies may take a turn later on in the evening.

The crew has been moved to the Smit Nicobar, an offshore support tug from Belgium that arrived on the scene Friday night, which is equipped with fire monitors to provide ongoing firefighting support.

Canup said another tug, the Maersk Mobiliser from Newfoundland, is expected to arrive at the ship at around 10 p.m. Atlantic time on Sunday evening, though he was unable to say how long it will take for it to tow the vessel to Halifax.

"The coast guard is continuing to monitor and co-ordinate efforts to help with the situation," Canup said, adding that there is no further information on the status of the fire.

The 320-metre container ship was travelling from Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Halifax on Thursday when a fire started inside a container on the ship's forward deck.

The blaze then spread to several other containers, and coast guard officials in Boston received a call for help early ....

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