Mexico says North Korean ship damaged coral reefs

Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A North Korean ship damaged nearly an acre (0.4 hectare) of coral reefs when it ran aground off Mexico's Gulf coast earlier this month, Mexican officials said Tuesday.

Mexico's Environment Department said the ship Mu Du Bong crushed parts of 250 coral patches, including Elkhorn coral, which is considered an at-risk species in Mexico.

The Mu Du Bong ran aground on reefs outside the Gulf coast port of Tuxpan on July 14.

Deep gashes in the coral were revealed after he ship was hauled off the reef over the weekend by port personnel, who had to unload fuel oil to refloat the ship. The reefs are in an area that is off-limits for shipping traffic.

It is unclear whether the government plans to fine the ship's owner or crew or file charges.

The ship remains anchored in the port of Tuxpan, along its captain and about 30 crew members. The North Korean embassy has been asked to post a 10-million peso ($770,000) bond for any damage assessment.

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