The car carrier burning off the Dutch coast since Tuesday night is carrying nearly 500 electric vehicles, ship charter company “K” Line said on Friday, significantly more than the 25 initially reported by the coastguard.
The fire on the Panamanian-registered Fremantle Highway, which was carrying new cars, resulted in the death of an Indian crew member and the injury of seven others who jumped overboard to escape the flames.
There were 3,783 vehicles on board, including 498 battery electric vehicles, a Tokyo-based spokesperson for K Line (Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha), which had chartered the vessel, said. He declined to say anything about the car brands, including whether or not it included any cars from Japanese manufacturers.
The coastguard said on its website Thursday the cause of the fire was unknown, but an emergency responder is heard in a recording released by Dutch broadcaster RTL saying “the fire started in the battery of an electric car”.
EV lithium-ion batteries burn with twice the energy of a normal fire and maritime officials and insurers say the industry has not kept up with the risks.
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