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Saturday, 27 April, 2002, 03:24 GMT 04:24 UK
Tanker terrier rescued off Hawaii
The US Coast Guard says it has captured a dog which has been stranded for over three weeks on an drifting tanker.

The two-year-old white terrier bitch called Forgea had been left on the Indonesian refuelling tanker, Insiko 1907, when its crew abandoned ship.

Forgea (circled) on the abandoned tanker Insiko
The crew dropped their packed lunches onto the boat to feed Forgea

A tugboat came alongside the Insiko 1907 on Friday, and caught Forgea, putting her inside a portable kennel.

"The dog was on the deck and they grabbed it," said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Tyler Johnson.

He said the dog would be moved to the tugboat after the salvage crew had completed work on board the tanker.

Rescuers also plan to retrieve the body of the crew member, and to prevent the ship - which still has 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board - from damaging a nearby wildlife refuge.

The ship is currently drifting about 160 kilometres (100 miles) off Johnson Atoll.

Captain's error

The Insiko 1907 was crippled by an engine room fire on 13 March, and left without any means of communication.

Forgea was left alone on the ship on 2 April, when 11 crew members were rescued by a passing Norwegian cruise ship.

The dog was left behind by mistake. Her owner, the tanker's Taiwanese Captain Chung Chin Po, thought she was not allowed on the Norwegian cruise ship.

So far the animal rescue has cost over $50,000.

When she is taken to Hawaii, she will be placed in quarantine on Kauai Island for up to four months.

The Hawaii Humane Society has had a number of offers from families eager to adopt Forgea.

But friends of Captain Chung in Hawaii say they will take care of the dog, if he is unable to take his pet back to Taiwan.

However, the story is unlikely to end so happily for the Insiko 1907.

The Coast Guard plans to tow her out of range of land and sink her in three miles of water, a depth at which any oil should dissipate before reaching the surface.

Lost and found

Television footage, shot from the air, had shown Forgea scampering over the bridge of the crippled vessel.

It is these pictures that tugged at the heartstrings of animal lovers nationwide.

Almost immediately, the Hawaiian Humane Society mounted a rescue operation, but the tanker could not be found.

It was feared Forgea had gone down with the ship.

But last weekend, it was rediscovered by a US coastguard plane. The crew dropped their packed lunches - pizza and oranges - onto the deck to keep the dog going.

It is believed that she had been living on rainwater and rats until then.

On Monday, fishing crews boarded the Insiko, but Forgea, shy and frightened, disappeared below decks and refused to come out, and was not rescued that day as reported earlier.

See also:

22 Apr 02 | Americas
Fishing crew saves abandoned dog
23 Jan 01 | Americas
Spotlight on oil transport risks
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