Container ships collide off Chinese coast, 22 crew rescued

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Two European-owned container ships have collided in the East China Sea and one severely damaged vessel has been abandoned by its crew after a fire broke out on board, the Denmark-based Maersk Line said on Monday.

Maersk said its ship, the Safmarine Meru, collided with the German-owned Northern Jasper off the eastern Chinese coast port of Ningbo while heading there from Qingdao further north.

It had fewer than 400 full containers on board when the collision took place early on Sunday about 120 nautical miles off the coast. The 22-strong crew quickly abandoned the ship, which is now afloat and anchored near the accident site.

“It is too early to comment on the circumstances surrounding the collision and fire,” Maersk Line said in a statement.

Maersk Line, a unit in conglomerate A.P. Moller-Maersk, is the world’s largest container shipping company with more than 600 vessels transporting everything from flat-screen TVs to sports wear.

Reporting by Ole Mikkelsen; Editing by Tom Heneghan