The Russian ship Lyubov Orlova, which had languished in Newfoundland, Canada for three years after authorities arrested the vessel over unpaid debts, broke free during a storm while it was being towed to the Dominican Republic to be sold for scrap.
The ship was briefly secured a week later by an offshore supply vessel when it was deemed a threat to offshore oil rigs. Lyubov Orlova was later cut free by order of Transport Canada when the ship was clear of the oil platforms and had reached international waters.
On January 23, 2014, British newspapers published an interview with Pim De Rhoodes, a Belgian salvage hunter who speculated that the ship was still afloat and is nearing the UK. The story in The Independent newspaper also reported that the ship "is likely to still contain hundreds of rats that have been eating each other to survive."
The stories spawned a viral outbreak of similar stories in newspapers and on websites around the world. There has been no confirmation either that the ship has sunk or, if it is still afloat, what its current location is.
Lyubov Orlova has not been seen since it was cut free in February 2013. In March 2013, two of the ship's emergency position-indicating radio beacons (EPIRB) were activated, and in late May 2013, the Canadian Coast Guard announced the ship was presumed to have sunk.
--by Jamey Bergman, UK Production Editor