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Last Updated: Friday, 25 May 2007, 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK
Looting victim visits Napoli site
Anita Bokdal
Most of Anita Bokdal's snatched possessions are still missing
A woman whose belongings were taken by looters when they washed up on a Devon beach from the grounded cargo ship MSC Napoli has pleaded for their return.

Anita Bokdal from Sweden had family heirlooms among property packed in a crate which was lost overboard.

The crate was en route to Cape Town in South Africa when the storm-damaged vessel was deliberately grounded in Lyme Bay on 20 January.

Only a fraction of the Bokdals' belongings have been recovered.

The crate was in one of 58 containers which ended up on Branscombe beach - part of the area's World Heritage coastline.

It is a beautiful place, why did it happen here?
Anita Bokdal

Hundreds of scavengers descended on Branscombe and many of the washed up goods and containers were looted.

Mrs Bokdal was watching television coverage of the Napoli when she saw her crate, which contained furniture, carpets, crockery and personal items, raided.

Days later, local builder Michael Wheeler was one of three men who admitted opening the crate and taking a crockery set, which he promised to return.

But Mrs Bokdal renewed her appeal to have her possessions back when she visited the beach for the first time.

"I beg them to give them back," she said.

Branscombe beach
Anita Bokdal saw her container being raided on television

Mrs Bokdal had flown from South Africa at the invitation of East Devon District Council (EDDC) to inspect the belongings held by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

She said she had "about 2%" of her property back, but treasured embroidered paintings by her late father-in-law and the bulk of a Swedish bone china Rosenthal tea set, decorated in pink and gold flowers was still missing.

Mrs Bokdal said the scavengers had behaved "like a lot of savages".

"I feel very sad. It is a beautiful place, why did it happen here?" she said.

Sophia Exelby, the government's Receiver of Wreck, said it was not known how much of Mrs Bokdal's property may have been lost at sea or left on the beach.

She was presented with a lucky horseshoe from the National Trust-owned Branscombe Forge, and bottles of special Napoli ale from the local Branscombe Brewery.

Council spokeswoman Sara Randall-Johnson said Mrs Bokdal's visit "gave us the opportunity to show her the other side of the British character - generous, warm and welcoming".

"We apologise for the behaviour of a small minority of greedy people."

Refloat plan

The Napoli's hull was damaged by storm-force winds in January off the coast of Cornwall.

Fears the vessel could break up led to the decision to deliberately ground it one mile off Sidmouth.

All the remaining 2,291 containers have now been removed from the vessel and discussions will now take place on its future.

Dutch salvers, Smit International, hope to refloat the vessel and tow it away.


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