A ship carrying more than a thousand luxury cars catches fire off the Azores

BERLIN/LISBON (Reuters) – A freighter carrying thousands of Porsche, Audi and Bentley cars between Germany and the United States caught fire off the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean, it was reported on Friday a spokesman for German automaker Volkswagen.

The ship, flying the Panamanian flag, had left the port of Emden, in northwestern Germany – where Volkswagen has a factory – to reach Davisville, in the United States, according to the MarineTraffic site, which provides information on the movements of ships around the world.

The 22 crew members on board were evacuated when the fire broke out on Wednesday and there were no injuries, the Portuguese navy said in a statement.

About 1,100 Porsches and 189 Bentleys were on board the ship, according to spokespersons for the brands. Audi, Volkswagen’s premium brand, confirmed that some of its vehicles were also on board, without specifying their number or providing details on their fate.

According to an internal email from the American subsidiary of Volkswagen, the ship was carrying 3,965 vehicles from the brands VW, Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini, reports the German newspaper Handelsblatt.

The German group did not confirm the total number of cars on board and said it was waiting for additional information.

American YouTuber Matt Farah, whose auto review channel “The Smoking Tire” has more than a million subscribers, said on Twitter that he was contacted by a dealer confirming that the Porsche he ordered was on board of the ship.

“My car is now adrift, probably on fire, in the middle of the ocean,” he said.

A photo published on the Portuguese Maritime Authority’s website on Wednesday shows clouds of smoke billowing from the ship.

The captain of the port of Horta, in the island of Faial, told Portuguese news agency Lusa on Thursday evening that the fire was still active but under control.

Local authorities were not immediately available for comment.

(Victoria Waldersee, Christina Amann and in Berlin, Catarina Demony in Lisbon; French version Diana Mandiá, edited by Blandine Hénault)

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