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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 March 2008, 19:17 GMT
Bad storms defeat ferry salvagers
Riverdance in storms
Riverdance has now sunk into the sand
Storms and high tides have delayed hopes of refloating the stricken Riverdance ferry on Blackpool beach.

Salvage experts, who were hoping to have moved the vessel by this week, have been defeated by the weather.

The ferry had been heading from Warrenpoint, County Down, to Heysham, Lancashire, when it was hit by a freak wave on 31 January.

It is now completely on its side and has sunk into the sand on the beach near Cleveleys.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is still optimistic the vessel can be refloated over the next couple of weeks.

Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of State's Representative for Maritime Intervention and Salvage, said salvors remained committed to moving the ship.

Riverdance
Since the boat arrived they've just been coming out in their thousands
Terry Monaghan, cafe owner

He said: "The salvors and everyone here have been doing a fantastic job but unfortunately they have just been beaten by the weather at each turn

"In some cases it just looks as if we've been taking one step forward and two steps back."

Despite the setbacks, Mr Shaw added: "The objective stays the same - to try and successfully move this vessel from the beach."

Twenty-three people were lifted to safety from the ferry when it ran aground six weeks ago - 19 crew and four passengers.

An unexpected outcome of the stricken ship has been a boost in the number of tourists visiting the North Shore area - an estimated 100,000.

Terry Monaghan, a cafe owner in the area, said: "Since the boat arrived they've just been coming out in their thousands, not their hundreds, their thousands. It has been our major tourist attraction.

"For the traders in Cleveleys I would say it has been a godsend, it really has."



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Riverdance battered by storms at Cleveleys



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