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Freebie diving

Crowds rush to loot goods from beached shipping containers

Opportunists in Ashkelon find thousands of items, including toys and pacifiers; one man snags a new fridge; ‘It’s a once-in-a-generation event,’ says witness

Illustrative - people look at a cargo ship that arrived at Ashdod port and was swept away to the shore following stormy weather in Ashdod, December 26, 2019. (Flash90)
Illustrative - people look at a cargo ship that arrived at Ashdod port and was swept away to the shore following stormy weather in Ashdod, December 26, 2019. (Flash90)

Crowds descended on an Ashkelon beach on Tuesday to grab thousands of items after six shipping containers washed up on the coast, each filled with thousands of products.

In total, nine shipping containers went overboard, with the location of three of them still unknown.

In a video published by Channel 12, the red shipping containers featuring the logo of Israeli shipping company Zim can be seen wobbling side to side, buffeted by waves off the Ashkelon coast, before finally toppling into the sea.

The cargo ship reportedly sought refuge from rough seas in the nearby Ashdod port, but due to hazardous conditions staff ultimately opted to return to sea, where the containers became dislodged for unknown reasons.

After the containers made landfall, opportunistic crowds arrived at the scene with crowbars to pry open the metal shipping containers. Inside, they found children’s toys, baby equipment such as bottles and pacifiers, clothing, cleaning products and disposable plasticware, among other items.

In one video, three men standing in knee-deep water could be seen struggling to maintain control over a two-door fridge as the group was battered by waves.

Security guards were unable to fend off the looters, and police were handing out fines to people who drove their cars onto the beach in an attempt to stock up on the thousands of items strewn along the sand.

One security guard told the Kan public broadcaster that the incident “could end in disaster” as people risked choppy water to cling to their newfound items.

Among the dozens of people on the beach was a witness who told Kan that “one man told us that he came to take a fridge. Another family came with eight people and broke open the container. It’s a once-in-a-generation event.”

In a separate incident caused by the same storm, two Environmental Protection Ministry patrol boats docked at a port in Ashkelon suffered damage after they became unmoored and crashed into nearby boulders, according to Channel 12.

As a result of the damage, the ships sank two and a half meters, forcing staff to remove one of the ships from the water altogether. No oil spills or environmental harm occurred as a result of the incident.

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