Undeclared Li-ion batteries catch fire on container ship en route to Nhava Sheva port

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 10 Jan 2020

Representational image courtesy: Cosco

In what seems to be an unclear incident, a ship transporting containers carrying lithium batteries en route to Nhava Sheva port in Mumbai from Port Klang, Malaysia caught fire, as seen in the purported video of the blazing containers (pictured below). The extent of the damage is not clear yet. The ship departed Port Klang on January 4 and was scheduled to reach its destination on January 6.

According to Maritimebulletin, at least two containers were destroyed by fire, neighbouring containers were also said to be damaged. However, the extent of damage and the number of damaged containers is not reported yet. The burnt containers were operated by Wan Hai Lines,  loaded in Nansha, south China and bound for Nhava Sheva Port in India. As of January 9 morning, the ship was still at Colombo. Though the burnt and damaged containers were offloaded, some other containers under fire were being monitored. Routine fire safety checks are underway.

As per the report, Cosco has asked affected customers (importers/exporters) to step forward and report voluntarily if they had misdeclared any cargo currently stowed on the vessel. Improperly categorised dangerous goods is one of the leading causes of container ship fires.

At present, it is unclear if the importer had not declared the requisite information or whether it is a case of human error. Further investigations are underway. Lithium-ion batteries, which form a core component of electronic goods such as cellphones and electric vehicles, are inflammable and may lead to explosion if not packaged with due safety precautions.

Also read: Tech breakthrough: Freezing Li-ion car batteries for safer transportation​