Mexico tries to relaunch stranded North Korean ship

MEXICO CITY Tue Jul 15, 2014 3:33pm EDT

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican rescue workers were trying to refloat a North Korean vessel stranded in the Gulf of Mexico a few miles from a port where it had planned to load fertilizer, authorities said on Tuesday.

The 6,700-tonne freighter "Mu Du Bong", which had come from Cuba, ran aground on a reef on Monday, 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Tuxpan in Veracruz state, said Ricardo Maza, head of the local emergency services.

"The boat is still there. Today we were hoping there would be better surf to be able to refloat it," Maza said.

There were no reports of injuries, and the crew was still aboard, he added.

Maza said the matter was under the jurisdictions of Tuxpan port authorities, the Mexican Navy and the environmental protection agency due to the possible damage caused to the reef area.

Federal authorities could impose sanctions on the ship for breaking navigation rules, Maza said.

"This ship was going to arrive at the port to load fertilizers, it was empty, and instead of following the established route, it ... ran aground."

Neither the Veracruz government nor the port authority could be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez; Writing by Christine Murray; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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