Authorities in Panama could not possibly have known what they were getting into when they detained a North Korean ship passing through the canal. They suspected the ship, which had departed from Cuba, of illegally carrying weapons underneath its official cargo, several tons of sugar.
They were correct: Authorities found some old radars for surface-to-air missiles, two Soviet-era MiG fighter jets and some other decaying equipment. But that was just the beginning.
"To call that thing filthy would be a compliment," Panamanian Security Minister José Raúl Mulino told the Miami Herald, which reports that the ship "stinks of its crew’s sweat and urine, the greasy kitchen, the food left on the floor, the years of humidity and mold."
It gets worse – a lot worse. Authorities have opened seven of the nine containers, but are waiting for a court order to open the eighth; the ninth is sitting under thousands of bags of brown sugar. But it's hot in Panama, 90 degrees and humid. And, with the cargo hold open for two weeks now, the sugar is melting.
Molten brown sugar is now apparently filling the hold of the ship, attracting so many bees that workers are having difficulty entering, according to Panamanian newspaper La Prensa and NKNews. The ship, cleared of the 35 North Korean sailors, is now full of bees.
Authorities are fumigating the ship on a daily basis in an attempt to continue their work. They're also hoping to relocate the sugar but are having a hard time finding a new home for it.
The Panamanian president, Ricardo Martinelli, personally inspected the ship's interior when it was first stopped. He does not appear to have returned since the bees arrived.