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A cargo ship carrying German cars is burning in the Atlantic Ocean

A ship loaded with Volkswagen Group cars has caught fire in the Atlantic Ocean. A Volkswagen spokesperson said today that the Felicity ES caught fire off the Azores. The Portuguese navy said the 22-member crew was rescued on Wednesday and there were no injuries.

The captain of the port of Horta in the Azores, Joao Mendes Cabicas, said there were about 4,000 vehicles on board, including several electric vehicles. Lithium-ion batteries in electric cars catch fire, making it difficult to put out the flames.

Unanswered questions about insurance

“The ship is burning from one end to the other,” he said. “Everything caught fire from five meters above the waterline.” Specialists from the Dutch rescue company Smit are standing near the ship and trying to control the flames. The ship’s fuel tanks are below the waterline and sealed by the crew.

It is not clear with whom the damage is insured. According to Allianz, which has experience with marine hazards, problems with auto carriers are among the biggest safety risks in shipping. There are always lengthy rescues: in June 2020, for example, it took eight days for a fire in the “Höegh Xiamen” auto transporter to be put out.

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