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Sinking of a luxury car cargo ship that had caught fire in the Azores

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(Lisbon) A freighter carrying thousands of luxury vehicles from the Volkswagen group, which caught fire nearly two weeks ago off the Azores archipelago, was wrecked on Tuesday morning, the Portuguese navy announced.

“The Merchant Ship Felicity Ace sank” “about 25 nautical miles (46 km) from the Portuguese exclusive economic zone,” the navy said in a statement.

The sinking of the freighter, which “lost its stability”, occurred during the towing operation, which began on February 24, in an area whose depth is about 3000 meters.

the Felicity Aceflying the Panamanian flag, found itself adrift for a few days off the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores, after a fire broke out on board on February 16.

The ship, which left Germany and was to join the United States, was 90 nautical miles (about 170 kilometers) southwest of the island of Faial when the alert was given.

The 22 crew members were quickly rescued. They were initially evacuated on board an oil tanker, which had been diverted on the spot to take part in the rescue operations, before being transported to the island of Faial on board a military helicopter.

In the days that followed, the fire continued to spread on board this approximately 200 meter long ship. Lithium batteries were the cause of the disaster, according to several media, but the information has not been confirmed.

Volkswagen said the ship was carrying “nearly 4,000 vehicles from several brands of the group, including 1,100 Porsches”.

The fire could generate “expected losses of at least $155 million for Volkswagen,” analyst firm Russell estimated last week.

At the site of the sinking, it is possible to see “debris and oily residues” which are being monitored, said the Portuguese navy, adding that navy divers, equipped in particular with retention barriers pollution control, had to go to the scene.

A military aircraft must also monitor the development of the situation.

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