Abandoned cruiser liner drifts toward Great Britain

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A ghost ship reportedly carrying nothing but disease-ridden, cannibalizing rats could be about to make land in Great Britain, experts have warned.

The 300-foot Lyubov Orlova cruise liner has been drifting across the North Atlantic for the better part of a year. It was abandoned in a Canadian harbor after its owners, embroiled in a debt scandal, failed to pay the crew.

Authorities in Newfoundland had tried to sell the hull for scrap — valued at about $1 million — to the Dominican Republic. When the 37-year-old Yugoslavian-built ship broke loose in a storm, Transport Canada let the currents take it, satisfied that the Lyubov Orlova “no longer poses a threat to the safety of [Canadian] offshore oil installations, their personnel or the marine environment.”

Salvage hunters say there is a strong chance it is heading toward the United Kingdom, according to a report by The Independent, but the ship has not been seen since its departure from Canadian waters.

Experts say the ship is likely to still contain hundreds of rats that have been eating each other to survive and must still be out there somewhere because not all of its lifeboat emergency beacons have been set off. Two signals were picked up last March, presumably from lifeboats that hit the water, showing that the vessel had made it two-thirds of the way across the Atlantic and was heading east.

A blog, “Where is the Lyubov Orlova?,” was established to track down the ghost ship.

Pim de Rhoodes, a Belgian salvage hunter who is among a number of people looking for the Lyubov Orlova off the U.K. coastline, told The Sun: “She is floating around out there somewhere. There will be a lot of rats, and they eat each other. If I get aboard I’ll have to lace everywhere with poison.”

The former polar-exploring cruise ship has reportedly piqued the interest of several salvage hunters, but it’s hardly the only unmanned vessel roaming the open ocean. According to the business publication Quartz, sailors have come across at least seven other “ghost ships” in the last 15 years.

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