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U.S. sailor witnesses fire on container ship Yantian Express off Halifax coast

American sailor Cameron Brunick witnessed the  Yantian Express fire while aboard a merchant vessel in the North Atlantic.
American sailor Cameron Brunick witnessed the Yantian Express fire while aboard a merchant vessel in the North Atlantic. Submitted/Cameron Brunick

Photographs taken by a sailor on a merchant vessel in the North Atlantic shows the extent of a fire onboard a container ship that has been burning off Canada’s East Coast since Jan. 3.

The Yantian Express, a 320-metre ship, caught fire about 1,900 kilometres southeast of Halifax.

READ MORE: Container ship fire burning off Canada’s east coast now ‘largely contained’

American sailor Cameron Brunick witnessed the  Yantian Express fire while aboard a merchant vessel in the North Atlantic.
American sailor Cameron Brunick witnessed the Yantian Express fire while aboard a merchant vessel in the North Atlantic. Submitted/Cameron Brunick
American sailor Cameron Brunick witnessed the  Yantian Express fire while aboard a merchant vessel in the North Atlantic.
American sailor Cameron Brunick witnessed the Yantian Express fire while aboard a merchant vessel in the North Atlantic. Submitted/Cameron Brunick
American sailor Cameron Brunick witnessed the  Yantian Express fire while aboard a merchant vessel in the North Atlantic.
American sailor Cameron Brunick witnessed the Yantian Express fire while aboard a merchant vessel in the North Atlantic. Submitted/Cameron Brunick
American sailor Cameron Brunick witnessed the  Yantian Express fire while aboard a merchant vessel in the North Atlantic.
American sailor Cameron Brunick witnessed the Yantian Express fire while aboard a merchant vessel in the North Atlantic. Submitted/Cameron Brunick

The pictures were taken by midshipman Cameron Brunick, who is on the merchant vessel as part of his shipboard training at a U.S. merchant marine academy.

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Brunick says his vessel was about three nautical miles away on Tuesday, and as they were going by, they “could smell the acrid whiff of the fires still burning onboard.”

He adds that the Yantian Express was barely moving.

“As we were approaching and after we passed her, we saw and continued to see the smoke rising from her bow,” Brunick wrote in an email.

The 22-member crew boarded a rescue tug and were taken to Halifax on Monday. The Embassy of the Philippines says 17 Filipino crew members were among those rescued. The seafarers were met by members of the local Filipino community and have since returned home.

Two tugs have been on the scene for days, and the German shipping company Hapag-Lloyd says the fire involving multiple containers is “widely contained and under control.”

READ MORE: Filipino crew from burning container ship taken to Halifax

— With a file from The Canadian Press