A ghost ship infested with hundreds of cannibalistic rats may reach Britain’s coastline, experts have warned.
The hulk of cruise ship Lyubov Orlova has been adrift in the North Atlantic for the past year after being cut loose off the coast of Canada.
However now, coastguards are reportedly worried the recent storms may have driven the 40-year-old liner across the North Atlantic, which now lurks ominously close to the UK shoreline.
The 300ft vessel has nothing aboard but hundreds, if not thousands, of disease-ridden rodents who are forced to prey on one another to survive.
Based on signals from distress beacons thought to have been set off accidentally and an unconfirmed satellite image, it is believed the vessel , built in the Soviet Union, could hit the West coast of Ireland, Scotland or far southern tip of England.
The Daily Mail qouted Belgian-based searcher Pim de Rhoodes as saying, “She is floating around 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.”
Authorities as well as salvage hunters — after the 4,250-ton vessel’s £600,000 value as scrap — are scouring the seas for any trace of her.
A spokesman for the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency said, “We have received no reported sightings of the vessel since April, but we will respond accordingly.”
Named after a Russian actress, Lyubov Orlova carried up to 110 passengers to destinations across the globe, including the polar regions.
However, in 2010 she was impounded in Newfoundland, Canada in a row over debts and deserted by her unpaid crew.
After two years tied up in port, the decision was taken to tow her to the Dominican Republic where she would be scrapped.
But in heavy seas, the tow-line to a tug broke, prompting the Canadian government to send out another ship to drag her far out to sea and release her.
“There have been huge storms in recent months but it takes a lot to sink a vessel as big as that,” Irish coastguard chief Chris Reynolds was quoted as saying by Mirror News. “We must stay vigilant.”
“We don’t want rats from foreign ships coming onto Irish soil. If it came and broke up on shore, I’m sure local people wouldn’t be very happy about it,” he added.
The Lyubov is now gaining in notoriety in internet discussion forums, an iPhone app called Find Orlova and its own Twitter account.