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Drifting ghost fuel barge to stay ice-bound — officials

February 24, 2015, 13:49 UTC+3
The ghost vessel and its 3.6-tonne fuel cargo has reached a point 12 kilometres off Chukotka after drifting along Canada’s northern coast and Alaska through the Beaufort Sea
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© ITAR-TASS/press service of the Far Eastern Shipping Company

YEKATERINBURG, February 24. /TASS/. A crewless, fully-laden Canadian fuel barge trapped in icy north Russian waters will be left stranded until warmer days at the end of May, marine officials said on Tuesday.

The ghost vessel and its 3.6-tonne fuel cargo has reached a point 12 kilometres off Chukotka after drifting along Canada’s northern coast and Alaska through the Beaufort Sea. It arrived in Russian territorial waters in December last year.

"It’s stuck in the ice," said Chukotka border guard service, noting that an attempt to free the vessel was judged impractical. Officials say the crew is likely to have abandoned the barge due to the high cost of rescue.

"Though it carries fuel, no spillage has been observed, nor have we detected any breaches that risk sinking the barge when the ice thaws. It will likely drift to United States or Canadian territorial waters in the event of a current change," the border service said, adding:

"When it wasn’t trapped and was drifting in US waters, neither US nor Canadian authorities made any effort to moor it. We can only guess why.".

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