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'Stinking Dutchman' with Ukrainian crew adrift in Black Sea

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MOSCOW, April 7 (RIA Novosti) - A foul smelling ship, crewed by Ukrainian sailors, has been drifting in the Black Sea for four months, the NEWSru.Ua website said citing a local newspaper.

The Beriks, dubbed the Stinking Dutchman by border guards, left the Georgian port of Poti in December 2008. Its cargo contains over 200 tons of decaying meat and poultry which started to rot after some of the ship's refrigerators stopped working.

Ukrainian authorities are refusing to let the vessel approach within 20 kilometers of the shore.

The twelve merchant seamen on board are forced to wear breathing apparatus to enter the ship's hold due to the stench and are reported to be running out of food and water.

They have tried several times to leave the ship on small boats, but the port authorities have sent them back.

The Beriks has been refused entry to the Ukrainian ports of Feodosiya, Yevpatoriya and Nikolayev. The ship has reached the Kerch Strait, but is not permitted any closer to land.

Ukraine's sanitary services have also refused to give permission for the ship's stinking cargo to be unloaded, and the vessel lacks specialist equipment which would allow it to be dumped in neutral waters.

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