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Ship carrying thousands of luxury cars sinks in the Atlantic after burning for weeks

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(NPR) A large cargo ship that was carrying luxury cars from Germany to the U.S. sank Tuesday in the mid-Atlantic — nearly two weeks after a fire broke out on board, according to Portuguese navy officials.

Officials confirmed that the ship, Felicity Ace, lost stability and sank about 250 miles off Portugal’s Azores islands as it was being towed to land. The ship sank in a location outside Portugal’s economic zone in an area that’s nearly 2 miles deep.

In its statement, the Portuguese navy said that only a few pieces of debris and a small amount of oil were visible where the ship sank and that tugboats were breaking up the patch of oil with hoses.

One of the vessels that had been monitoring the Felicity Ace was en route to Ponta Delgada in the Azores to pick up pollution containment equipment, Portuguese navy officials said.

The 650-foot-long vessel is capable of carrying 4,000 cars. It is unclear how many vehicles were on board the ship.

European auto manufacturers declined to comment regarding exactly how many cars and what models were on board the ship, The Associated Press reported. However, Porsche customers in the U.S. were being contacted individually by their dealership.

“We are already working to replace every car affected by this incident and the first new cars will be built soon,” Angus Fitton, vice president of public relations at Porsche Cars North America Inc., told the AP.

The Portuguese navy rescued all 22 members of the crew from the ship, which was scheduled to arrive in Davisville, R.I., on Feb. 16. The crew was taken by helicopter to Faial island in the Azores, the AP reported. None of the crew members was hurt.

Volkswagen confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that insurance has covered the loss of its vehicles, which could be at least $155 million, insurance experts told the Journal. The total estimated loss for all the cargo, which included Porsches, Bentleys, Lamborghinis and Volkswagens, is close to $440 million, the Journal reported.

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