A SHIP which ran aground at a wildlife haven off the North-East coast at the weekend could be stuck for a fortnight if it is not refloated today, according to experts.
The 80-metre-long MV Danio was heading from Perth in Scotland to Antwerp in Belgium, when it got caught on rocks in the Farne Islands, three miles off the Northumberland coast, in the early hours of Saturday.
Now, falling tides mean rescuers are in a race against time to free the ship from the rocks, called the Blue Caps, near Longstone Lighthouse.
The flat-bottomed vessel, carrying timber, is not thought to be badly damaged, and there are no reports of any fuel leaking.
The Farnes are home to thousands of puffins and 6,000 grey seals. Ian Clayton, of Seahouses RNLI, said: “They are waiting for more salvage equipment. They will be making a determined effort on Monday evening.
“If they cannot get it off then, the chances are it will be stuck for another fortnight.”
Mr Clayton said lower tides over the next two weeks would hamper any attempt to remove the Danio.
Hugh Shaw, a Government official overseeing the salvage effort, said the flat-bottomed ship was sitting on a fairly level reef in a spot without much manoeuvrability and worsening weather conditions could in fact aid the rescue, he said.
“It could hinder or it could help us,” Mr Shaw said. “Heavier seas could give us a wee bit of movement from where she’s sitting.”
Mr Shaw, the Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention, said she ran aground just before high water on a spring tide.
He said he was confident that with the right equipment, a re-float was possible without badly damaging the vessel and risking local wildlife.
“It’s in everyone’s interest to get this done as quickly as we can but we need to make sure we have all the resources we need, rather than rush into it,” he said