British Columbia

21 crew members stuck on drifting container ship off B.C. after engine fire

Two men were airlifted from the damaged vessel on Thursday.

2 men were airlifted from vessel Thursday, relief ship arrived around midnight

Two crew members were transported by helicopter to receive medical attention after an engine fire broke out on their ship southwest of Haida Gwaii. (Andrew Wright/Parks Canada)

Two crew members had to be rescued from a container ship off the B.C. coast after they suffered burns in an engine fire on Thursday.

The MOL Prestige is now adrift southwest of Haida Gwaii without a working engine and with nearly two dozen more people still onboard.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre said three people were inside the engine room when a "major" fire broke out.

Brandon Austin, search mission coordinator with the JRCC, said a senior crew member helped get them out. Two were airlifted to hospital with blistered hands and a third was recovering on the ship.

Austin said the Sir Wilfrid Laurier, one of the centre's biggest relief ships, arrived on scene around midnight to support the crew while they wait for a tug.

That tug is expected to arrive Friday afternoon, but Austin said it will be slow going after that and the crew isn't expected to see land for "some time" yet.

The crew still has light, heating and communication being powered by an emergency generator, Austin said.

He added that a situation like this is "a fairly big deal" that "doesn't happen very often at all."

The MOL Prestige is a 70,000-tonne ship nearly 300 metres in length. She's registered in Singapore and was heading to Tokyo from Vancouver.

With files from Tanya Fletcher