Fire broke out on the 630ft Purple Beach container ship about 15 nautical miles off the coast of Heligoland, late Monday night.
The ship departed from Port Immingham, England destined for Brake, Germany when the fire broke out in one of its cargo holds. Originally, the fire was contained by the crew but restarted on Tuesday forcing all crew members to quickly evacuate for fear of explosion.
Authorities say the ship is said to be carrying fertilizer which can cause the vessel to easily burst into flames. In total, 26 crew members were taken to the hospital for treatment of inhaling toxic gas, some having to be airlifted with more serious conditions.
A foul smell has been reported in the coastal town of Cuxhaven and lower Saxton where residents have been advised to keep their windows shut. At this time there is no immediate threat to people or the environment though this may change quickly.