Zeppelin diamond hunter grounded for good

Tuesday 09 October 2007 10.31
De Beers Zeppelin - This diamond-hunting airship - was damaged by heavy winds - Photo: Bennie Bos
De Beers Zeppelin - This diamond-hunting airship - was damaged by heavy winds - Photo: Bennie Bos

A rare zeppelin used to detect diamonds in Botswana has been permanently grounded by its operator De Beers after sustaining heavy damage.

The world's biggest diamond producer was using the giant airship to carry exploration sensors that probed beneath the sands of the Kalahari desert.

Heavy winds detached the €7m ship from its moorings near the Jwaneng mine last month, slightly injuring its South African crew.

A company spokesman said the zeppelin was too badly damaged to resume work.

Only two other zeppelins like it are operational in the world. Located in Japan and Germany, they are each used for tourism purposes.

The zeppelin had gathered a good amount of data in the nearly two years it had been in use.

De Beers will now use alternative methods for diamond exploration in Botswana and neighbouring South Africa.