Fire onboard Baltic ferry nearly extinguished: Danish navy

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A fire that has raged for more than 30 hours onboard a Lithuanian-flagged car ferry carrying 200 tonnes of fuel and anchored in Danish waters was almost extinguished Sunday, the Danish navy said.

"There are no longer visible flames onboard, only some smoke and the smoke is much smaller than yesterday," the duty commander at the Danish navy operational command told AFP.

Firefighters would board the ferry later Sunday to check if there were any fires inside the ship and empty any water in the vessel in a bid to stabilise it and prevent it from sinking.

"It is not a search and rescue operation anymore. For the moment it is an environmental protection operation," the commander said.

Danish authorities said Saturday the ship contained up to 200 tonnes of fuel but that none had been spilled.

The Danish-owned Lisco Gloria ferry was travelling from Kiel in Germany to the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda when an explosion onboard overnight Friday into Saturday caused a fire.

German authorities said Saturday 249 people were evacuated, including the ship's crew. Twenty-eight needed medical treatment and 23 were in hospital Saturday suffering from smoke inhalation. None had serious injuries.

Authorities played down the likelihood that a "terrorist" attack had caused the blast.

"The investigation is continuing, but the first indications are that it was most likely caused by a technical fault on a lorry," Stefan Jung, police spokesman in the northern German city of Kiel, told AFP.

After the blast, the ship drifted into Danish waters and was anchored about three kilometres (two miles) from the Danish island of Langeland.


© 2010 AFP

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