By Constantinos Psillides
A CONTAINER ship carrying a number of hazardous goods is anchored outside Limassol port awaiting permission to unload, after it was damaged by fire while crossing the Suez Canal.
The Hanjin Athens, 6,6278 gross tonnage container ship caught fire while south of the Suez Canal on May 6, according to a report by Dolphin Maritime & Aviation Services Limited, a cargo claims company.
According to the report, the fire was in the second hold and caused substantial damage to the cargo in that hold.
Around 200 containers were loaded onto the ship.
The fire was put out by specialists on board but according to Limassol Port deputy head Georgios Pouros the ship’s captain requested to unload some of the damaged cargo, judging that otherwise it would be dangerous to stay on course to the original destination.
Since last Sunday the ship has been anchored outside the port of Limassol. But “everything is under control,” Pouros said, adding there was no need for the public to be alarmed.
“We sprung into action immediately. A task team was formed to assess the dangers of allowing the ship to enter Limassol port and unload its cargo on Cyprus soil. We sent experts onboard, verified the ship’s manifest, inspected the cargo and ordered all the tests required, as per standard procedure. We are expecting the final results within the next days and if everything checks out OK we will unload the cargo come Tuesday or Wednesday,” Pouros said.
He also played down how dangerous the cargo is. “The manifest does classify some of the ship’s cargo as hazardous but this is the case with almost 40 per cent of the cargo on any ship. We have verified that no class 1 and class 7 material were on board, which are the really dangerous ones”.
Class 1 substances are explosives and ammunition, while class 7 are radioactive material.
Pouros said the cargo classified as “hazardous” mostly had to with paint, refrigerant gas (freon) and cars.
“The gas inside the cars is a flammable liquid therefore classified as hazardous,” explained Pouros.
The Hanjin Athens docked at several ports in eastern Asia during its journey. Its last port of call was Singapore and its destination port is Naples, Italy.