More than 100 containers from cargo ship went overboard during B.C. storm, coast guard says

More than 100 shipping containers from the stricken cargo ship MV Zim Kingston fell overboard amid bad weather over the weekend, according to revised numbers from the Canadian Coast Guard on Wednesday.

After what it called an extensive survey of the ship’s bays Tuesday, officials and salvage crews were able to confirm 109 containers are missing from what should have been about 1,000 on the upper deck. The previous estimate was 40 containers. 

The Zim Kingston was Vancouver-bound when it caught fire on Saturday, but the trouble began a day earlier during “very heavy weather conditions.”

Sixteen crew members were forced to leave the ship after smoke from three burning containers holding a hazardous material identified as potassium amylxanthate was deemed dangerous.

The coast guard set up a one-nautical mile safety zone around the ship, which remains anchored at Constance Bank, about eight kilometres off the coast near Victoria.

A cleanup vessel responds to the fire onboard the Zim Kingston on Monday. (Canadian Coast Guard/Twitter)

Toxic to marine life

The ship’s manifest shows the same volatile substance was being held in two of the 109 missing containers.

Potassium amylxanthate, which is used in mining, is classified by the U.S. government as “spontaneously combustible” and is also toxic to marine life.

The manifest also revealed that the contents of the other containers that fell overboard Saturday include Christmas decorations, sofas, poker tables, metal car parts, clothing, toys, yoga mats, stand-up paddle boards and industrial parts.

A coast guard helicopter and a Transport Canada surveillance plane are flying over the floating containers — spotted in the water near Cape Scott on northern Vancouver Island — and the agencies say they will assess the risks posed by the contents.

The coast guard says that while some metal containers have been reported on shore, others are expected to sink to the ocean bottom.

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