Tuesday, May 22, 2007
One of the world's biggest private yachts, a 108-metre (354-foot) vessel belonging to Saudi billionaire Nasser Al-Rashid, sparked a beach pollution alert at the Cannes film festival after running aground. The luxury vessel, the Lady Moura, hit a submerged rocky outcrop near the port in this French Riviera resort as it was navigating a short distance off-shore Saturday. Its passengers were evacuated. Authorities briefly closed two hotel-owned beaches hosting some of the VIP parties taking place at the festival and set up water barriers to stop leaking fuel from fouling other areas.
Lady MouraThe yacht itself, an imposing white vessel carrying a helicopter, was pulled off the underwater hazard by a tugboat. Two big holes seen in its hull were hastily patched up. It headed to Gibraltar for full repairs. Cannes officials said several hundred litres (gallons) of fuel spilled but was cleared up over several hours, allowing the 15,000 festival-goers to continue with their partying and cinema dealings on one of the world's most famous coastlines. Rashid, an advisor to the Saudi royal family and a powerful businessman, has a huge fortune whose magnitude is largely shielded from public scrutiny. He reportedly paid more than 200 million dollars (150 million euros) for the Lady Moura, which is named after an ex-wife.