Stranded ship left to mercy of typhoon after towing operation aborted

As Typhoon Mitag bears down on Taiwan’s northeast coast, harbor authorities decided to abort an operation to tow a 1,000 tonne freighter off the rocky shore at Daxi Harbor, Yilan County, yesterday, after an inspection team found that the hull had already been breached and had taken on water.

The crewless, nameless, freighter ran aground Saturday, September 28, after drifting into Taiwan waters from the Yangtze River via the sea of Japan. Maritime authorities believe that the ship had been used as a gravel barge on the Yangtze River, and may have come adrift after a towing cable snapped during a typhoon that affected the area around two weeks ago.

Although the ship has no engine, a team that boarded the vessel yesterday morning, September 29, found that oil was floating on top of water in the hull. Deciding that the damaged hull made a towing attempt too dangerous, an oil boom was put around the ship in an attempt to prevent oil spreading into the marine environment.

An oil boom was put around the stranded vessel yesterday when the weather was relatively calm. Picture: Hongqi Whale Watching.

However, pictures and video of the ship today show the vessel being pounded by large waves generated by Typhoon Mitag, and the oil boom has disappeared.

Local fishermen and tourism operators, including whale watching operators expressed concern about pollution affecting the local environment.

Yilan County Magistrate (mayor) Lin Zi-miao expressed her dissatisfaction with the Harbor Bureau’s failure to tow the ship away before the typhoon, and said that the ports authority must take full responsibility for any safety hazard and property losses incurred.

Yilan County Magistrate Lin Zi-miao
Yilan County Magistrate Lin Zi-miao expresses concern about a stranded freighter left to the mercy of Typhoon Mitag.

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Sources: United Daily News, Apple Daily.

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