Canadian Coast Guard officials now believe that more than 100 cargo containers — up from the 40 originally reported — went overboard from the Zim Kingston, a large cargo ship that caught fire near British Columbia on Saturday.

Canadian officials revised the number, first to 106 and then to 109, on Wednesday after the fire was suppressed on the vessel.

The number of those that have been reported to contain toxic chemicals, however, remains at two, according to the Canadian Coast Guard.

Canadian authorities said the crew was advised to abandon ship, which was piled high with containers and anchored about 5 miles offshore from Victoria, when it caught fire.

The fire was caused by a combustible chemical powder spilling from containers that had been damaged in a storm Friday as the ship, arriving from South Korea, approached the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, officials said.

On Friday, the containers started falling off the vessel, which was listing, during heavy swells near the strait, officials said. A 1-mile exclusion zone was placed in effect around the container ship near Constance Bank “due to danger of falling containers,” and a navigation warning was sent to all ships in the area.


The hazardous material was identified, according to the Coast Guard, as potassium amyl xanthate, a pale-yellow powder used in the mining industry. In all, 57 tons were aboard in four containers — two that dropped overboard and two that caused the onboard fire.

Earlier this week, the Canadian Coast Guard said salvage workers would need calm weather before they could retrieve the containers that have been bobbing near the strait. Originally, officials said the containers, which were drifting parallel to shore about 12 miles off the southwest coast of Vancouver Island near Tofino, B.C., were not likely to come ashore.

Where containers that fell overboard from the large container ship, Zim Kingston, were floating last month.

However, on Wednesday the CCG reported that four of the containers were located on shore near Cape Scott. The containers were identified and checked against the ship manifest, and do not contain hazardous chemicals, officials said.

Due to the potential risk from the hazardous material in two of the containers, officials warned against opening or moving any of them and asked mariners, aircraft pilots and members of the public to immediately report sightings of containers to 1-800-889-8852.

Information from The Seattle Times archives is included in this report.