The British Royal Navy was called to rescue the 26 crew members of a huge Grimaldi Group cargo ship that caught fire and has sunk off the coast of France.
The Italian boat, called the Grande America and operated by the famous Grimaldi Group, had been sailing from the city of Hamburg in Germany to Casablanca, in Morocco and sunk 333 kilometres (206 miles) off the coast of western French.
Video Credit: CEN/Marine nationale
The fire had reportedly been blazing for 24 hours after first being noticed when the 214-metre (702-foot) boat was in the Bay of Biscay in southwestern France.
The Marine Prefecture in the Atlantic Sea said in a press statement that tough meteorological conditions in the area had made it more difficult to control the situation when the emergency services were sent to the scene.
The British Navy were also involved in the operation and Francois de Rugy, France’s Minister of Ecological Transition, said: “The solidarity between navies is confirmed and that is good news.”
According to local media, the British Navy rescued the 26 crew members from the burning ship.
De Rugy said in the National Assembly that the state is focusing now on efforts to contain the possible pollution of the waters and to find out the exact content of the cargo.
The minister confirmed that the anti-pollution protocol had been activated. Two boats, the Aquitaine and the VN Sapeur are still in the area in order to guarantee the security of the sailing area, according to the French Navy.
Anti-pollution teams will also be sent to contain the risks caused by the potential leaking of the boat’s petrol.
The investigation over the causes of the fire is still ongoing.
The Environmental association Robin Hood said in a press statement that the boat was built in 1997 and was stopped in 2010 due to 35 issues in the port of Tilbury in the United Kingdom.
The association also claimed that the vessel was transporting vehicles, tyres and second hand vehicles, as well as tyres to be recycled and could be considered dangerous. This information is yet to be confirmed.
The Grimaldi Group is a conglomerate of companies linked to the logistics business and the main brands are Grimaldi Lines, Atlantic Container Line, Minoan Lines, Finnlines, and Malta Motorways of the Sea.