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Cannibal rat ship heads towards Ireland

Friday, January 24 12:12:21

A Russian cruise liner that got lost in the Atlantic and may be loaded with rats could be heading for the Irish coast, according to international media reports today.

The MV Lyubov Orlova went adrift off the coast of Newfoundland while it was being towed to a scrap yard in January 2013.

British coastguards believe that it could be heading toward the coat of Britain or Ireland as it drifts across the ocean, the Daily Mail reported, citing the Sun newspaper.

The ghost ship is likely to be carrying hundreds of rats, which have had to resort to cannibalism over the course of the year-long ocean voyage, the report said.

The 4,250-ton liner, named after a sex symbol of Stalin-era Soviet cinema, was launched in 1976 and refitted in 1998 for voyages in the Antarctic.

It was marooned in Canada in 2010 over the owner's debts and eventually sold for scrap metal. But it was lost en route to the Dominican Republic after a towline snapped.

The Lyubov Orlova was initially believed sunk, but sightings have been reported in the Atlantic during the past 12 months, including possibly between Scotland and Iceland just a few weeks ago.

The mystery of the ship's fate generated enough public interest to launch a website, Twitter account and line of merchandise.

The rat-infested liner represents a financial opportunity for anyone who finds it, as it is worth an estimated $1 million as scrap metal.

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman dismissed the reports, saying the agency had received no information about the ghost ship since last April.

Irish coastguards also said they had received no news of the vessel's whereabouts and no reports of anyone seeing it.