Fire-hit MSC Flaminia 'safe' to be towed

MSC Flaminia
Image caption Inspectors said there was no pollution from the MSC Flaminia after an explosion and fire damaged the vessel

A chemical container ship which has been held 30 miles off the Cornish coast since two crewmen died in an explosion will be towed to Germany.

The fire-damaged MSC Flaminia was inspected by a team of six salvage specialists and towing is expected to start on Sunday, coastguards confirmed.

The ship, owned by Reederei NSB, caught fire on 14 July in the mid-Atlantic.

One crew member died and one is missing presumed dead. The remaining crew was forced to abandon ship.

The remaining crew of 23, five Germans, three Poles and 15 Filipinos, and two passengers were rescued unharmed.

The stricken 85,823-tonne vessel was laden with a cargo of 2,876 containers, 149 being classed as dangerous goods, said the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

Environment 'top priority'

A spokeswoman said: "While the MSC Flaminia suffered considerable damage environmental assessments have shown no pollution.

"An international independent inspection team, with representatives from the UK, France and Germany, went on board the vessel last Tuesday."

Russian journalist Mikhail Voytenko earlier published the full manifest of the MSC Flaminia on the internet.

He said: "MSC Flaminia is actually, a big chemical, toxic and miscellaneous dangerous substances floating bomb.

"No wonder crew fled the vessel, no wonder EU States fear MSC Flaminia just short of her being a nuclear device ready to explode."

The MCA responded that the inspectors "are all completely satisfied that the vessel is in a safe and stable condition to make her onward journey to Germany".

Reederei NSB said in a statement that temperatures on the ship's hold had reduced to 60C.

It said: "The prevention of harm to the population and the environment is the top priority during all further stages of the salvage."

The journey is likely to take five days.

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