VIDEO: Salvage divers find deck items feared looted from shipwreck
DIVERS have found missing deck items from wrecked tall ship Astrid on the seabed, allaying fears it had been looted.
An extensive examination of the wreck off west Cork found no evidence that anything was stolen from the 95-year-old, 42-metre brig.
The key items missing from the Dutch-owned vessel -- its wheel, the brass bell that was cast in 1937 and compass -- have now been accounted for.
They either washed up on the shore or lie trapped in the debris field.
Divers photographed and took video of the shattered hull yesterday and on Friday and found no evidence that the ship had been looted, though a large number of items are missing from the deck area.
It is believed the sea ripped them from the deck as the vessel was repeatedly smashed against rocks while semi-submerged.
It is hoped salvage teams will be able to raise the wreck and take it for inspection over the next few weeks.
The Irish Coast Guard and Naval Service have warned people to stay away from the wreck as it is extremely dangerous.
A 200-metre exclusion zone was placed around the ship pending its examination by salvage experts and removal to a nearby port.
The Naval Service enforced the zone for an initial 48 hours with the LE Emer and LE Roisin.
Responsibility for securing the area passed to the Coast Guard when the Naval ships left.
The Astrid sank after being wrecked between Oysterhaven and Kinsale on July 24 after its engine failed. Strong tides and winds up to 30 knots drove it on to the rocks despite the efforts of skipper Pieter de Kam and his Belgian crew to get it to safety.
Seven crew and 23 sail trainees from five countries were rescued in one of the biggest operations ever mounted by the RNLI and the Coast Guard.
The RNLI said it was "a miracle" no one was seriously injured or killed.
The Astrid will now be assessed by Castletownbere-based salvage operators Blue Ocean, who will try to extract it from a ledge underneath
cliffs and bring it ashore, most likely to Kinsale.
Experts have said the damage is so extensive that the Astrid will almost certainly never sail again.
However, salvaging it would allow the Marine Casualty Investigation Board to determine what caused the sinking.
The Astrid was built in 1918 and survived World Wars I and II before being damaged by fire in the 1970s. She was refurbished and has worked for the past two decades as a sail training vessel.