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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 August 2006, 07:45 GMT 08:45 UK
'Toxic ship' cleared for breaking
Blue Lady
The Blue Lady was once the pride of France
Experts appointed by an Indian court have cleared the entry of a French ocean liner into a ship-breaking yard, a senior official said.

The Blue Lady, owned by an Indian firm, can now be towed to the world's largest ship-breaking yard in Alang in the state of Gujarat and dismantled.

It was formerly the SS France and then the SS Norway.

Environmental groups say the ship contains 1,200 tonnes of asbestos and other toxic materials.

The 11-storey, 315-metre-long, liner entered Indian waters last month and is anchored off Pipavav port.

The Indian Platform on Ship-breaking, an alliance of groups including Greenpeace and the Ban Asbestos Network, says the dismantling should not be allowed to go ahead.

Last month, India's Supreme Court ruled that the ship could be scrapped at Alang provided it was declared safe by experts.

Now a senior Gujarat government official told the BBC that the experts had given the clearance to the ship to proceed to the ship-breaking yard.

There was no immediate comment on the development from environmentalists.

In February, the French government recalled the decommissioned aircraft carrier Clemenceau en route to Alang after a lengthy campaign by Greenpeace and other environmental groups.

Hotel or museum

The Blue Lady was once the pride of the French shipping industry when it was the SS France.

Alang map

Ship-lovers as well as ecologists have been battling to prevent the scrapping of the Blue Lady and there is also a proposal to convert the liner into a floating hotel.

Campaigners in the France Liner Association want to see it turned into a museum.

Artist Salvador Dali and pop star David Bowie have been among its celebrity passengers.

India faces second 'toxic' ship
09 May 06 |  South Asia
Dhaka bans 'toxic' French liner
16 Feb 06 |  South Asia
Chirac orders 'toxic' ship home
16 Feb 06 |  Europe

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