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Ghost ship found adrift near Australia
Last Updated Tue Jan 14 09:58:12 2003

SYDNEY-- Police in western Australia are trying to understand what happened to the crew of a ship found adrift with nothing but a few tonnes of rotting tuna on board.

The High Aim 6 was boarded by the Australian navy on Jan. 8. It was adrift, its engines stopped. No one was aboard, and the life rafts had been launched.

The long-line fishing boat, owned in Taiwan and flying an Indonesian flag, had been reported missing since Dec. 13.

Police said the boat was in good shape, with plenty of fuel and supplies. No signs of violence were apparent, and the weather in the area had been calm for weeks.

The crew, thought to be made up of Taiwanese and Indonesians, left behind their personal belongings.

When the 20-metre ship was spotted this month, officials initially thought it might be smuggling migrants.

But with a hold full of rotting tuna and mackerel, police now think the crew were fishermen, probably fishing illegally.

A search of more than 7,000 square nautical miles turned up no sign of the crew.

Because the engines on the ship had stopped, the batteries ran flat so the freezers on board had quit, leaving the fish to rot.

Written by CBC News Online staff

Copyright 2002 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation - All Rights Reserved