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MS Zenobia: the mysterious shipwreck turned diving site
Posted on 20/07/2019


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On the June 7, 1980, the MS Zenobia capsized and sank just off the shores of Larnaca, Cyprus. Today, the ship is one of the world's top spots for recreational diving.

How did it happen?

How did it happen?
© kystudio/123RF

The MS Zenobia was a ferry that was supposed to transport over 100 tractor trailers containing a range of cargo from Malmö in Sweden to Tartous, Syria. The ship began its maiden voyage in May 1980, and while passing Greece, it began to list to its portside (which means 'slowly tip to the left', for those who don't speak ship). The problem, which seemed to come from too much water being pumped into the ballast tanks, was thought to have been fixed, until the ship arrived in Cyprus and had to be abandoned about a mile off the coast of Larnaca where it sank to the seabed at a depth of around 138 feet.

The MS Zenobia today

The <i>MS Zenobia</i> today
© Rostislav Ageev/123RF

The remains of the MS Zenobia lie rusting in the waters, which are so clear that the wreck can be seen from the surface, making the site extremely popular among scuba divers. Some of the trucks on board the Zenobia were carrying frozen meat which has now decayed down to the bones, making this the perfect home for marine life. Some divers have been lucky enough to spot various rare species of fish and even octopuses! Divers can explore the area or go deeper inside the ship, exploring the rooms and destroyed cargo trucks within. Unfortunately, some divers have lost their lives in the wreck due to going beyond their limits, but many locals have other theories about these deaths which they say are mysterious.

Conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theories
© Rostislav Ageev/123RF

There has been much speculation about what actually caused the ship to sink that day in 1980. Because no formal investigation into the shipwreck has ever been launched, many people suspect that the sinking may have been deliberate. The ship was carrying around $200 million of cargo (around £160,000), yet apparently the insurance money was never claimed by the owners, and no one knows why. Another theory is that the boat was carrying an illegal arms shipment to Syria. And it's not the first strange occurrence to happen in Larnaca. On August 14, 2005, Helios Airways Flight 522 crashed while flying from Larnaca to Athens, and all 121 people on board died.

What do you think happened to the MS Zenobia?

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