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Salvage operation on stranded ship carrying luxury cars begins

By Ben Mitchell

Salvage workers have boarded a car carrier which was deliberately stranded on a sandbank next to a busy shipping lane to prevent it from capsizing.

The 51,000-tonne Hoegh Osaka was grounded on the Bramble Bank between Southampton and the Isle of Wight after it sailed from the Hampshire port with its cargo of 1,400 luxury and standard cars as well as 80 pieces of construction equipment.

There are 1,200 Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles and 65 Mini cars on the ship.

The vessel began to list as it left the port, forcing the captain and pilot to take the emergency action of beaching it on the sandbank to prevent it turning over into the sea.

The incident prompted a major rescue operation with the 24 crew members and a pilot having to be taken to safety by Coastguard helicopter and RNLI lifeboats. Two people suffered non-life threatening injuries and were taken to hospital.

The 180-metre Singapore-registered ship is listing at 45 degrees and the salvage operation is expected to take days, possibly weeks.

A 200-metre exclusion zone has been set up around the ship to prevent small vessels interfering with the tugs. Salvage company Svitzer has been appointed to lead the operation to refloat the ship.

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