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Firefighters substantially extinguish blaze aboard wreck of 'ghost ship' MV Alta

The MV Alta is slowly being ripped apart by waves on the rocks near the village of Ballycotton on the east Cork coast.

Image: Cork County Council

Updated Apr 29th 2021, 10:50 PM

THE FIRE BRIGADE has “substantially extinguished” a blaze onboard the wreck of the former ‘ghost ship’ the MV Alta near Ballycotton in County Cork. 

Smoke was spotted coming from the bridge area of the ship earlier today and firefighters have responded. 

Cork County Council has just issued a statement updating the situation at the scene.  

“Firefighting operations have finished for the evening due to the rising tide and poor light. The fire is substantially extinguished and will be further assessed again tomorrow.

“Cork County Council and An Garda Siochana are appealing to members of the public to avoid the area and not to attempt to gain access to the wreck which has been further damaged by the fire and is in an unsafe condition.

“Gardaì will continue to monitor the situation overnight,” the statement read.

Earlier a Council statement said there was no danger to the public from the fire.

“Two units of Cork County Council’s Fire Service are currently in attendance at the scene of a fire on board the shipwrecked MV Alta near Ballycotton, Co. Cork.

“Fire crews are currently monitoring the fire ensuring there is no danger to the public.

“There are no reports of any casualties and fire crews will continue the monitor situation in this difficult to access location.

“An Garda Síochána and the Irish Coastguard are also in attendance and the public are asked to avoid the area while the Emergency Services deal with this incident,” the statement said.

The MV Alta, currently stranded along the coast at Ballyandreen, is a merchant ship built in 1976 that was abandoned by its crew in October 2018 after suffering a mechanical breakdown en route from Greece to Haiti. 

According to a Marine Casualty Investigation Board report, the ship first departed Greece in September 2018 bound for Haiti in the Caribbean but suffered a main engine failure shortly after launching. 

MV Alta drifted for 496 days over a distance of 2,300 nautical miles (NM) to its current position in Ballyandreen Bay. The vessel’s exact position and distance travelled during this time is unknown and unrecorded and can only be estimated.

The Council has indicated three possible options for the future of the wreck: Leave it in situ at Ballyandreen, tow it out to sea and let it sink, or dismantle and remove the wreck.

Responsibility for the wreck, the MCIB report found, rests with Ireland and its maritime search and rescue agencies.

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The report also found that the likelihood of pollution remains high until the wreck is removed and that the cost of removal will likely be borne by the State. 

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