Ship runs aground in the Dover Strait

A German container vessel with 27 crew on board has run aground in the Dover Strait off the coast of Kent. The 90,465-tonne LT Cortesia was en route to the Suez Canal when it ran aground on the Varne Bank, nine miles (14km) south of Dover harbour.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said all those on board were uninjured and the vessel still appeared watertight.

Spokesman Mike Toogood said it was in no danger and an attempt to refloat it would be made within the next 12 hours.

He said the ship was carrying 4,148 containers, some of which was “hazardous cargo”, but they are reported to be secure.

The exact nature of the materials on board is unknown.

Mr Toogood said first indications from the vessel were that it had not sustained any damage.

Map showing Varne sandbank

He added: “There was no pollution visible around the vessel… and there doesn’t appear to be a breach of the hull.

“It’s quite safe where it is. It’s sat on a sandbank on the Varne and it’s not going anywhere.

“The situation is well under control at the moment.”

It is unclear why the vessel ran aground.

The towing vessel Anglian Monarch is at the scene, while the owners are also believed to be arranging for the assistance of additional tugs.

There is currently a 2.5 mile (4km) exclusion zone around the ship and a 3,000ft air exclusion zone.

The container vessel ran aground just before high water at 0500 GMT as it travelled through the Dover Strait in the south west bound lane from Thames Port.

The Varne sandbank is a well-known hazard that is clearly marked on all shipping charts.

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