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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 January 2008, 18:41 GMT
Washed up timber to be sold off
Worthing beach on Sunday
Bundles of wood have washed ashore on Worthing beach

Hundred of tonnes of timber washed ashore after a cargo ship sank off the Dorset coast is to be sold off.

Worthing beach has been shut to allow heavy machinery to remove the timber which has come ashore from the Greek-registered Ice Prince.

The ship sank about 26 miles (42km) off the coast after a storm.

Wendy Knight, from Worthing Borough Council, said its owners had appointed contractors to find a market for the timber which would then be sold.

Planks and bundles of timber are reported to be several feet deep on the tide line.

Contractors appointed by the Receiver of Wreck are using mechanical equipment to take the timber away in lorries in an operation which is expected to last all week.

People are nicking it and loading it into vans and we are advising against that
Mark Clark, MCA

Worthing Borough Council said barriers and cordons were being erected along the beach, with "public safety the key element".

West Sussex County Council has issued an urgent plea to mariners, windsurfers and canoeists because of concerns that the floating wood could cause a serious accident.

Windsurfers have also been criticised for pursuing their sport among the huge timber planks lost overboard from the ship.

"We think it is madness to go windsurfing among all this wood," said Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) spokesman Mark Clark, who added that people were causing "quite a lot of problems".

Flood defence damage

"With all this wood coming in it does create problems and we do not want any casualties or accidents," he said.

Mr Clark said that in Worthing "great lumps" of wood were coming up onto the beach.

"People are nicking it and loading it into vans and we are advising against that," he said.

"People are also going into the sea to get the timber, which is also madness."

The MCA has warned that anyone who keeps the washed-up timber from the Ice Prince could be arrested and fined up to 2,500.

Wood from Ice Prince

Under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, it is both an offence to conceal or keep possession of such cargo, or to fail to report the cargo.

The vessel shed more than 2,000 tonnes of her 5,260-tonne timber cargo. An exclusion zone is now in place around the ship, off Portland Bill.

The 10m (33ft) lengths of sawn wood were put on board in bundles, but sea conditions broke many of them apart.

Solent Coastguard has suggested the timber could float as far as Newhaven and even Beachy Head.

Police and coastguards have been at some Sussex beaches trying to stop people from taking the cargo, which will be removed by contractors.

West Sussex County Council has also expressed concerns that the sea could throw the timber against shingle banks and groynes, causing flood defence damage.

The cargo ship was also carrying lubricating oils in the engine space, around 423 tonnes of intermediate fuel oil and 123 tonnes of marine diesel oil.

Plans to recover oil and 2,742 tonnes of timber still in the ship's hold are being discussed by the owners.

Mr Clark said that the vessel was "not going anywhere" 62 metres under the sea and the MCA was making daily overflights to check for oil.

All timber sighted must be reported to Solent Coastguard by telephoning: 02392 559021 or 02392 559022.

Shipwreck timber washing ashore
19 Jan 08 |  England
Timber hazard after ship wrecked
16 Jan 08 |  England
Timber ship sinks in rough seas
15 Jan 08 |  England

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