A fire broke out on a cargo ship carrying about 3,000 vehicles off the Dutch island of Ameland, killing one sailor and hospitalizing 22 crew members with respiratory problems, burns and injuries.
A Dutch coastguard spokesperson said he believed the fire was caused by one of the 25 electric vehicles on board.
Photos shared by the coastguard show the Panama-flagged Freemantle Motorway covered in smoke and flames licking the deck.
The coast guard said the fire could last for days, Dutch news agency ANP reported. The sides of the ship were doused with water to cool them down. But rescue boats refrained from treating the ship with too much water in case it sank.
The freighter set sail at 03:00 pm local time on Tuesday for Port Said in Egypt. The ship, which left the German port of Bremerhaven, caught fire overnight about 27 km north of Ameland on the edge of the North Sea.
In the first moments of the fire, crew members tried to extinguish the flames with their own efforts. When they could not cope, they had to evacuate the ship.
The captain of the Ameland lifeboat, Willard Molenaar, told public broadcaster NOS that seven people had leapt 30m into the sea: "One by one they jumped and we had to fish them out of the water. They were really desperate so they had to jump."
The ship is currently stationary, but the coastguard says there is a risk it could tip over. Rescue boats are on standby for possible scenarios.
The incident has also raised the risks associated with the transportation of electric vehicles.
Last year a cargo ship carrying 4,000 luxury cars caught fire and sank off the Azores. Lithium-ion batteries in the electric cars caught fire and firefighters needed specialist equipment to put out the fire.