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Interislander Ferry runs aground

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The Aratere Interislander ferry ran aground near Picton, New Zealand, on Friday night.

The ferry got stuck in sand and mud near a rocky cliff in Tītoki Bay around 9:45 p.m. due to a steering failure. Efforts to refloat the ferry will be made at approximately 9 p.m. tonight.

The ferry was carrying freight and had no passengers on board at the time of the incident. KiwiRail, which operates the Interislander ferries, reported no injuries. Eight specialist divers and 39 crew members stayed on the ferry overnight, with some disembarking on Saturday afternoon.

KiwiRail’s chief executive, Peter Reidy, emphasized that the ferry is lodged in sand and mud, not rocks. Reidy expressed disappointment, noting that significant maintenance, including an upgrade to the steering system, was completed just three weeks ago.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown described the grounding as a “very concerning incident” and highlighted the importance of safety and reliability for the ferry service. Investigations by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) and Maritime New Zealand are underway.

To ensure safety, the Harbourmaster has established a 500-meter exclusion zone around the ferry. Port Marlborough has mobilized marine teams and tugs to assist if needed.

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