Italy: Cocaine haul worth more than £20m found in ship's hull by specialist divers, police say

Police in Italy have seized around 150kg (330lbs) of pure cocaine hidden nine metres (30ft) underwater in a ship's hull.

The haul was worth around €5m (£4.3m) wholesale but could have had a street value of about €25m (£21.5m), investigators said.

Officers from the Italian state police and finance police boarded the cargo vessel, registered in the Marshall Islands, after it docked in Ravenna, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea in northern Italy, last week.

Specialist divers searched under the ship in difficult sea conditions for several hours before they found 139 blocks of pure cocaine.

The drugs had been hidden "inside sea intake pipes".

Video released by investigators showed the divers finding large silver-coloured packages underwater, lifting them on to a police boat and opening them with knives.

Some had images on them, including a bicycle.

The drugs were wrapped in plastic to protect them from water damage.

The ship, carrying fertiliser, had set sail from Santos in Brazil at the end of February, heading for northern Europe before arriving in the Italian city late last Tuesday night, prosecutors said.