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05 December 2011

Cape Town Trawler blaze affects cargo operations

News24 user Rob Tarr took this pic on Friday 2 December of a fishing vessel that caught fire in the Table Bay harbour.

Cape Town - Cargo handling operations resumed at the container terminal of the Cape Town dock where a trawler has been ablaze, Transnet National Ports Authority said on Sunday night.

A fire which started on the fishing vessel Dongsan on Friday had closed the terminal on Sunday morning, but operations resumed at 19:00, said Coen Birkenstock.

Dongsan, docked at Quay 501 in the Ben Schoeman dock, was being cooled by a tug boat.

Chief Executive Karl Socikwa said three vessels could not load or offload on Sunday due to the potential threat of the burning trawler.

"In terms of port operations, we have in effect lost two days - one day due to the strong wind [on Saturday] and one day due to the fire today."

He said the fire only affected the Dongsan, and the Ports Authority was monitoring it around the clock.

Five workers had been treated for gas inhalation and were later discharged, Birkenstock said.

Tests were being conducted regularly to detect toxic gases such as ammonia, but only low traces of ammonia had been found.

Port operations were expected to be normalised by Tuesday.

Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Theo Layne said earlier that fighting the fire was difficult because the vessel was listing to one side, and firefighters could not safely board it.

A pollution officer had been deployed to assess whether the ship fire posed an environmental hazard.

- SAPA/News24