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Voyage of Japanese ‘ghost ship’ ends April 06,2012   |  Source: AP

The U.S. Coast Guard unleashed cannon fire Thursday at a Japanese vessel set adrift by last year’s tsunami, stopping the ship’s long, lonely voyage across the Pacific Ocean.

A Coast Guard cutter fired on the abandoned 164-foot (50-meter) Ryou-Un Maru in the waters of the Gulf of Alaska and more than 150 miles (240 kilometres) from land, spokesman Paul Webb said.

Soon after the 25 mm cannon fire started, the ship burst into flames, began to take on water and list, Chief Petty Officer Kip Wadlow said. A huge spiral of smoke could be seen over the gulf.

About two hours later, the vessel hadn’t sunk and the cutter resumed shelling, Lt. Veronica Colbath said. This time, the Coast Guard used 50 mm shells.

The vessel poses a significant hazard and the Coast Guard has been warning mariners to stay away, Wadlow said. Aviation authorities are also advising pilots to steer clear of the area.

Officials decided to sink the ship rather than risk the chance of it running aground or endangering other vessels. The ship has no lights or communications system and has a tank that could carry more than 2,000 gallons (7,500 liters) of diesel fuel.

They don’t know how much fuel, if any, is aboard. “It’s less risky than it would be running into shore or running into


© 2012, The Hindu

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