Cargo ship loses containers, catches fire in bomb cyclone off Canada coast

Cargo ship loses containers, catches fire in bomb cyclone off Canada coast
Crew advised to abandon ship, but said they wanted to stay onboard to fight the fire

Catastrophe hit a container ship in Canadian waters when a “bomb cyclone“ caused a fire onboard shortly after dozens of the containers fell off the vessel.

On Friday, up to 40 shipping containers fell into the ocean off the coast of Vancouver after a ship, the Zim Kingston, was thrashed by rough waters. The Zim Kingston is flagged as a Maltese vessel, capable of carrying 4,253 twenty-foot shipping containers.

The ship had left from Busan, South Korea, with cargo intended for North America.

As the containers drifted out to sea the following day, damage sustained to the remaining cargo by other shipping containers resulted in them bursting into flames.

Photos of the ship show flames licking out from the shipping containers as columns of grey smoke rose high above the Zim Kingston.

According to the Canadian Coast Guard, it is tracking 35 of the lost containers, including two that contain hazardous flammable materials.

The captain and crew were advised to abandon the ship, according to Canadian authorities, but the crew rejected the advice, saying they wanted to stay and attempt to fight the fire. The crew later left the ship.

Due to the hazardous materials onboard the ship, the Canadian Coast Guard said tug boats could not use water to fight the ongoing blaze on the container vessel.

“Two of the containers have been identified as carrying spontaneous combustibles,” Petty Officer 3rd Class Diolanda Caballero told the Vancouver Sun. “They are currently drifting north but we can’t predict which way they will go because of the heavy weather. The bomb cyclone is around that area.”

A “bomb cyclone” occurs when a mid-latitude cyclone’s minimum air pressure decreases to below 24 milibars in 24 hours, a process called “bombogenesis”. The lower a storm’s pressure, the stronger the storm becomes.

Another bomb cyclone is expected to hit Northern California and the Pacific Northwest throughout the weekend. The storm is expected to drop 2 to 4 inches of rain and produce gusting winds between 30 and 40 mph (48-64kph).

According to AccuWeather, West Coast cities including San Francisco and Sacramento will almost certainly face flooding due to the rain. The outlet did note that those rains could help extinguish ongoing wildfires in the region, but could also produce mudslides.

Winds off the Oregon coast will be even stronger, between 70 and 90mph (113-145kph), which is similar to the winds produced by a Category 1 hurricane.

Those winds will produce waves 40 to 50 feet high in the Pacific ocean, which could cause disruptions to the already strained shipping industry as vessels pilot away from the storms to avoid similar fates to the Zim Kingston.

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