Canada: Toxic blaze on cargo ship 'Zim Kingston' spews gas

Vessel was carrying more than 52 tonnes of chemicals in two of the burning containers

A fire aboard a container ship is spewing toxic gases off Canada’s Pacific coast.

The Zim Kingston bound for Vancouver hit bad weather late last week and reported the fire to the coastguard at 11am local time on Saturday, authorities said.

"The ship is on fire and expelling toxic gas," the Canadian Coastguard said. The vessel, it said, remained anchored off British Columbia.

"An emergency zone has been established at Constance Bank within one mile of the anchored container ship Zim Kingston," the agency said.

It is unclear what caused the blaze.

The US Coastguard said in a tweet that about 40 containers from the vessel had fallen overboard after the bulk carrier hit rough weather west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca on Friday.

The coastguard said the ship was carrying more than 52 tonnes of chemicals in two of the containers that are on fire.

At least 10 crew members have been taken to safety, according to media reports, while 11 have stayed behind. Six containers are ablaze in total, CBC News reported.

The report said the Zim Kingston was carrying xanthates – chemicals used in the mining industry – which includes potassium amylxanthate.

Potassium amylxanthate is an irritant and an environmental hazard.

Video showed fire cascading down from the deck of the ship into the water.

A joint agency response is being co-ordinated to provide assistance, the Canadian Coastguard said. An assessment, it said, was being made to determine the pollution hazards from the containers.

Updated: October 24th 2021, 5:17 PM