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Maltese flagged still in dire straits

Salvage teams working desperately to refloat the waylaid Maltese-flagged cargo ship, the Kodima, continued to be thwarted yesterday by heavy seas, as the Malta Financial and Business Times went to print last night.

Salvors had successfully boarded the Kodima just off the coast of Cornwall to undertake initial inspections. Experts from the Dutch company - who were dropped on board by helicopter in difficult conditions, after an earlier attempt had to be abandoned - confirmed that the engine room and all holds have been flooded. However, the hull appeared to still be holding firm.

The 7, Kodima was at the centre of dramatic rescue operation on Saturday, when deck stanchions securing the on-deck timber cargo were carried away by extreme weather.

The resulting cargo shift had caused the vessel to list dangerously, forcing the master to seek safety, but the list caused seawater contamination of the fuel oil, causing engine problems and then total breakdown, leaving no option but to order total evacuation.

Some 15 men and one woman, all believed Russian or Ukrainian nationals, were lifted to safety by a Royal Air Force helicopter.

The ship, on route from Libya to Sweden, ran aground 12 hours later and now has a port list of 15 degrees.

The Kodima is now firmly aground on a sandy beach and does not appear to be moving position, but large waves are breaking over her stern, making access hazardous.

The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency's counter pollution surveillance aircraft flew over the vessel on Sunday afternoon and reported some pollution amounting to about half a tonne evident in the water. The hue and sheen indicated that the pollution is dispersing rapidly in the turbulent seas.

It is estimated that the total of bunkers, diesel and lubrication oil on board is less than 500 tonnes.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt