SALVAGE crews have started to remove the cargo of metal poles from the stricken bulk carrier beached on Gibraltar shores.

A Koole tug and barge managed to strip away the cranes around the cargo hold of the OS 35 late last week.

It gave large cranes on the salvage barge the first possibility of starting to fish out the poles from Cargo Hold 3.

At the same time, help is on the way from northern Europe.

Koole tug 31 and towing barge K10030 finally managed to leave the Brest port where they had spent the last few weeks sheltering from poor weather.

Captain of the Port John Ghio said: “Today’s developments represent important progress towards the removal of the wreck and its contents.”

The OS 35 hit another ship and ran aground 700 metres from Catalan Bay village on the eastern side of the Rock in late August.

A large ten metre gash in its hull created an extensive oil spill in the area that stained local beaches and bathing areas.

After police charged the ship’s captain with responsibility for the accident, tugs emptied the bulk carrier’s tanks of all its oil and fuel.

The Port Authority has set a May 30 deadline for owners and insurers to break up and remove the shipwreck from its current location.

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