One crew member was killed and several others wounded in the fire which broke out last week.

Dutch authorities have moved a burning cargo ship with hundreds of electric cars on board to a new, safe, position, to try and avoid an ecological disaster. 

The Dutch National Institue for Water Management said the release of smoke is now minimal, five days after the start of the blaze off the Netherlands’ coast. 

”Two tugs began the 66km journey yesterday afternoon and arrived at the tentative location around 11:30am,” the government agency said in a statement.

The freighter is now 16km north of the islands of Schiermonnikoog and Ameland. These Dutch islands straddle the Wadden Sea – a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a diversity of more than 10,000 aquatic and land species – and the North Sea.

The new position should guard against ”different scenarios and expected weather conditions”, officials say. While the boat is anchored, an inspection will be carried out. 

Dutch authorities have stationed nearby a boat capable of cleaning up oil spills at sea, and the plan is to tow the cargo ship to port eventually. 

Officials say the destination port depends on the situation on board, weather conditions, and finding a port with the right facilities to dock the vessel.  

The freighter is flying the Panamanian flag, and carried 3,783 new cars, including 498 electric vehicles, according to the company which chartered it. 

The 18,500-ton cargo ship left the German port of Bremerhaven for Port Said in Egypt before heading back to Singapore, its final destination.

The cause of the fire, which first broke out overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday last, is still unknown, but one of the electric cars on board could be the cause.

One of the 23 evacuated crew members died, and several were injured – most of them have since been released from hospital, according to Dutch media.

Operations to extinguish the fire were suspended Thursday to prevent the ship from being destabilised by the amount of water it was taking on.

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