Topic: Lighthouses & Shipwrecks
|Mystery "mist" shrouds Patagonia sinking of gold laden ship|
This story is still unfolding,....."It's a story of a ship that vanished off the coast of Patagonia with a cargo of gold and silver, but its ending remains shrouded in mystery.The Polar Mist was abandoned by its crew in a storm and sank earlier this year, but did the nine tons of gold and silver aboard worth more than 16 million dollars go down with it?'Nobody knows anything. There is something strange here, but nobody knows what. I've made inquiries everywhere: nobody knows,' said John Wilson, the Argentine representative of the British insurance company Lloyd's.The mining group Cerro Vanguardia, which owns nearly all the gold and silver aboard the Polar Mist, has said the cargo was insured by Lloyd's.'The insurance company has confirmed to us they have every intention of recovering it. They will return the cargo and we will resume the shipment that was interrupted,' said Jorge Palmes, president of Cerro Vanguardia.The cost of recovering the cargo, which went down in waters 75 meters (225 feet) deep, is estimated at three million dollars. It has to be done by the start of autumn in the southern hemisphere, March 21, for it to have a chance of succeeding.'We are not worried. If the insurance company recovers the cargo, we will recover the gold. Otherwise, we are insured,' Miguel Angel Ferro, the president of Fomicruz, a Chilean company that belongs to Cerro Vanguardia.Despite those assurances, each day that passes brings a raft of new questions.Why was the sinking not disclosed until a month after it happened, following an investigation led by a federal judge in Santa Cruz, Gerardo Camano? The judge declined to comment on the case.The gold shipment's route also seems curious. Departing January 14 from Punta Quilla, Argentina, the Polar Mist was supposed to make a stop in Punta Arenas, a port in the southern end of Chile.From there it was to head north to Santiago, where the shipment was to be transferred by air to Switzerland.But a day's sail out of Puerto Quilla, the Polar Mist was overtaken by a powerful storm.Its seven member crew and one passenger asked the Argentine navy to rescue them. But the ship was left adrift for 24 hours until a Chilean tugboat, the Beagle, arrived on the scene.It tried to save the vessel, but failed. The Polar Mist sank 40 kilometers (24 miles) off the coast of Argentina. Was the cargo still on board? Only a salvage operation will tell.Meanwhile, there are a tangle of insurance companies involved.Cerro Vanguardia owns seven tons of the shipment, while the Triton mining company owns the remaining 2.48 tons, according to the Argentine customs.The Argentine company Secure Logistics contracted to transport Cerro Vanguardia's cargo insured it with an Argentine company for 16 million dollars. The Argentine company then re-insured it with Lloyd's.For its part, Triton insured its cargo with insurer Marsh for 1.6 million dollars.Argentina is the 15th largest producer of gold in the world and is on track to be among the top 10 by 2001, according to the ministry of mines, which says gold production is grew 6,000 percent between 2003 and 2008."