The two men were found unconscious at lunchtime on the Fembria, a German cargo ship docked in a port near Sundsvall, on Sweden’s east coast. They were later pronounced dead in hospital. The port at which the Fembria had docked serves paper company SCA’s Östrand pulp mill.
The police were called to the ship at 12:44pm on Wednesday after the two men could not be found. They were later found in a cargo hold at the front of the ship, which is about 100 metres long.
The men were unresponsive when found by the emergency services, and were treated as seriously injured. Tests revealed that the oxygen content of the air in the hold was only 2 percent.
“Around 20 percent oxygen is needed for people to be able to survive,” said Åsa Grip, spokeswoman for the emergency services.
A third crew member has also been taken to hospital in nearby Sundsvall, which lies 375 kilometres north of Stockholm. Despite the fact that he was wearing a protective mask, he was hit by breathing difficulties.
“The dead men are so far unidentified. We do not know their nationality,” said Grip.
The Fembria docked in Östrand during the morning to offload timber.