OTTAWA – The Canadian coast guard on Friday reached a fuel-laden Russian container ship that was dangerously adrift off the Pacific shore and threatening to cause an environmental catastrophe.
A local aboriginal people had declared a state of emergency, fearing the ship would strike land and devastate the pristine coastline, which is home to a rich marine life and dozens of ancient village sites.
â€œThe Haida Nationâ€™s worst fear is coming true,â€ said group president Peter Lantin.
The Russian ship had been heading home from the US state of Washington when it suddenly lost power in bad weather overnight Thursday and became stranded eight nautical miles from the west coast of the Haida Gwaii archipelago.
Canadian coast guard ship the Gordon Reid reached the vessel late Friday.
â€œHeâ€™s arrived on scene,â€ Ron MacDougall of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) told AFP.
The coast guard will not tow the Russian ship to land, but rather stabilize it to ensure it does not run aground.
The JRCC in Victoria, British Columbia told AFP the 135-meter (443-foot) long Simushir was incapacitated in gale-force winds and swells seven meters (23 feet) high.
The ship is carrying 400 metric tonnes of bunker fuel and 60 metric tonnes of diesel. -AFP