‘Ghost ship’ washes ashore in Ireland after Storm Dennis

The abandoned MV Alta cargo ship on the rocks off the coast of Ballycotton, County Cork, Ireland. (AFP)
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Updated 18 February 2020

‘Ghost ship’ washes ashore in Ireland after Storm Dennis

  • The abandoned 77-meter (250-feet) cargo ship MV Alta ran aground on rocks near the village of Ballycotton in County Cork
  • The Alta’s odyssey began in September 2018 when she became disabled in the mid-Atlantic en route from Greece to Haiti

BALLYCOTTON, Ireland: A “ghost ship” drifting without a crew for more than a year washed ashore on Ireland’s south coast in high seas caused by Storm Dennis, the Republic’s coast guard said.
The abandoned 77-meter (250-feet) cargo ship MV Alta ran aground on rocks near the village of Ballycotton in County Cork, Ireland’s second city, bringing an end to her months-long voyage.
The Alta’s odyssey began in September 2018 when she became disabled in the mid-Atlantic en route from Greece to Haiti.
Her 10 crew members spent 20 days on board the listless ship as it floated 1,380 miles (2,220 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda, before they were taken off by the crew of a US Coast Guard cutter.
At the time the US Coast Guard said it was working with the then Tanzanian-flagged ship’s owner to arrange a tug back to shore.
But the question of her subsequent movements then become clouded.
Maritime news site Fleetmon reported receiving correspondence from the alleged owner, saying the ship had been twice hijacked from Guyana in the process of being salvaged.
The next official sighting of the 44-year-old vessel came in August 2019 when British Royal Navy ice patrol ship the HMS Protector found the Alta floating crewless in the mid-Atlantic.
“We closed the vessel to make contact and offer our assistance, but no one replied,” according to the ship’s Twitter feed.
The Alta’s journey ended on the rocks over the weekend as Storm Dennis raged, lashing Ireland with heavy rain and winds up to 110 kilometers (70 miles) per hour.
The Irish Coast Guard said a rescue helicopter was sent to the scene on Sunday but no crew was found.
Cork County Council said Monday there was no sign of pollution spills in the area around the ship and that a contractor would board the vessel at low tide on Tuesday for a further assessment.
“Consultations are continuing between the Irish Coast Guard, Cork County Council, the Receiver of Wrecks and other relevant bodies in relation to the future of the wreck,” it said in a statement.


Keepers, animals keep each other company at Cairo’s shuttered zoo

Updated 03 April 2020

Keepers, animals keep each other company at Cairo’s shuttered zoo

  • The zoo in Giza, across the Nile from central Cairo, is one of the few green spaces in the usually bustling city of 23 million and is often crammed with families
  • Egypt, like other countries, is trying to curb the spread of coronavirus cases by restricting people’s movements

CAIRO: The chimpanzees, lions and hippos of Cairo’s zoo are getting a rare spell of peace and quiet alone with their keepers as a closure caused by the coronavirus outbreak keeps the public away.
The zoo in Giza, across the Nile from central Cairo, is one of the few green spaces in the usually bustling city of 23 million and is often crammed with families seeking diversion from the grind of daily life.
Now keepers do their rounds at the zoo along deserted pathways, feeding animals apples and bananas through the railings of their cages and bringing fresh hay to their enclosures.
Veteran keeper Mohamed Aly holds hands with 12-year-old chimpanzee Jolia in a gesture of friendship, while noting that keepers are careful about cleaning hands between rounds.
“I’ve been here about 25 years,” he said. “(I’ve spent) my whole life with them, they may not speak but they feel everything, and of course all of them are looking for people to play with.”
Egypt, like other countries, is trying to curb the spread of coronavirus cases by restricting people’s movements. It has imposed a night curfew and shut schools, mosques and tourist sites including the pyramids. It has so far confirmed more than 850 cases of the virus, including more than 50 deaths.
The zoo, which has been closed along with others in Egypt since March 18, is sprayed with disinfectant twice a week.