'Ghost ship' with no one on board runs aground on Myanmar coast

Authorities 'puzzled' by mysterious vessel but navy investigation suggests it was en route to Bangladesh to be scrapped

Police investigate 'ghost ship' after it ran aground in Myanmar

The mystery of a "ghost ship" found drifting near Myanmar has been solved.

The vessel, which bears the name “Sam Ratulangi PB 1600”, ran aground on Thursday near Thongwa township in the country’s Yangon region.

Coastguard, navy and police teams have been monitoring the ship since villagers first spotted it earlier in the week.

When it finally came to a standstill after hitting a sandbar, a team entered the vessel and confirmed there was no one on board.

“No crew or cargo was found on the ship. It was quite puzzling how such a big ship turned up in our waters,” U Ne Win Yangon regional parliament MP for Thongwa, told The Myanmar Times. “The authorities are keeping a watch on it.”

Yangon police confirmed the container ship was carrying an Indonesian flag.

The Myanmar navy said the empty cargo ship was being tugged to a ship-breaking plant in Bangladesh when bad weather caused it to become detached.

State-run media in the country said ship was originally destined for a ship-breaking factory in Bangladesh.

Unseaworthy vessels are often taken to the port of Chittagong in the country once they have come to the end of their working lives.

The Marine Traffic website, which logs the movements of global shipping, states the ship is 177m (580ft) long and was built in 2001.

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It also records the vessel’s last recorded position as in the South China Sea off the west coast of Taiwan, although that was back in 2009.

The Sam Ratulangi is not the first ghost ship to be found in Asian waters. In recent years a number of suspicious boats have been found drifting off the shores of Japan.

Many of these vessels were found empty or with only corpses on board, but a handful have been found with North Korean crew members still alive inside.

Unlike the massive vessel in Myanmar, these “ships” were mainly smaller fishing boats.

Commentators speculated that the North Korean regime’s increasingly ambitious demands from its fishing fleet were forcing crews further and further out to sea in search of fish, placing them at risk.

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