A Chinese factory fishing ship that caught fire and had to be evacuated last week has now sank into the Antarctic Ocean, according to news reports. Officials say there is no risk of fuel spilling into the ocean.
According to The Australian news agency, the Chilean navy said an official representing the ship's owner confirmed that the vessel went down on Sunday afternoon near Bransfield Strait at the Antarctic peninsula.
After the ship was evacuated last week, environmental groups expressed concern that the ship, and the fuel in its hull, was a potential ecological hazard in the pristine Antarctic waters.
The Chilean government promised to monitor the ship and stood by to contain any spilt fuel.
According to Captain Juan Villegas, maritime governor for Chile's portion of Antarctica, the fire onboard the ship appears to have burned up any fuel at risk of spilling.
"An environmental disaster is ruled out because of the fire on board," Villegas told The Associated Press. "Experts say that if there was any fuel on board it has burned out by now."
The 97 crew members working on the vessel Kai Xin abandoned ship last week after the fire was reported and a Norwegian ship came to assist with the rescue.
The 104-meter Chinese ship was built in 1990, according to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.
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