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Thousands of Porsches, Volkswagens burning as cargo ship catches fire on Atlantic

How the car transport ship caught fire is not known but it's likely a car battery blast in the decks of Felicity Ace could have led to the massive blaze.

STUTTGART (Germany), Feb 18: Thousands of high-end cars like Porsches and Volkswagens have been burning aboard the cargo ship Felicity Ace which caught fire on the Atlantic ocean on way to US markets from Germany on Wednesday. All the 22 crew have been rescued by helicopters and a warship, the Portuguese navy said.

How did the ship catch fire is not known but experts speculate that the fire on the decks could have been started by a likely car battery blast especially as modern vehicles are hybrid fuel-driven. The battery can expand under adverse conditions, spark and explode. The crew might have detected the fire after it spread through the decks and found it uncontrollable at that point, abandoning the ship.

The cars belong to the Volkswagen group of automobile manufacturers.

The Panama-registered, Japan-built, comparably new cargo ship caught fire near Azores islands in the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday afternoon. The ship, of the size of three football grounds, is burning mid sea, and is unmanned.

The Portuguese navy used helicopters and a warship in the rescue operation. All the 22 crew have reportedly been rescued by them.

Salvage operations are underway but fire suppression is very difficult because of the series of decks filled by the cars in thousands. A crew may board it, pump water, and help it tow away to a safer location. The vessel may not sink at this point, experts say.

The ship began sailing on February 10 from Emden in Germany and was to arrive at the port of Davisville in Rhode Island in the US on February 23.

According to one report there were 3,965 Volkswagen AG luxury vehicles, including 1,100 Porsche cars, in 12 to 15 decks on the ship. Volkswagen manufactures Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi, Lamborghini and other brtands.

A few years back, 2,000 Audis and Porsches were lost in a similar fire. Porsche starts at $100,000.

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