Canadian authorities say they are assessing the situation after a fire broke out at a container ship carrying environmentally hazardous chemicals.

Burning container ship Zim Kingston is said to be carrying more than 52,000 kg of xanthates - chemicals used in the mining industry.
Burning container ship Zim Kingston is said to be carrying more than 52,000 kg of xanthates - chemicals used in the mining industry. (Reuters)

The Canadian Coast Guard has said it is monitoring a fire that broke out on a container ship off the coast of Victoria, British Columbia, and is working with the US Coast Guard to assess the situation.

"The Canadian Coast Guard received a report around 11 am this morning from the MV Zim Kingston that a fire has broken out in the damaged containers on board," it said in a statement late on Saturday.

"The ship is on fire and expelling toxic gas," the statement said.

According to the report, the vessel is said to be carrying more than 52,000 kg of xanthates - chemicals used in the mining industry - which includes potassium amylxanthate. 

Potassium amylxanthate is considered an irritant and an environmental hazard.

According to CBC News, 10 crew members have been evacuated, while 11 members remained on board. Six containers are ablaze in total, it said.

It is unclear what caused the blaze.

Video obtained by Reuters showed fire cascading down from the deck of the ship into the water.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies