A “significant amount” of cocaine has been found on a Thai-controlled bulker at the port of Ghent in Belgium.

A report by Nieuwsblad said Precious Shipping’s 33,800-dwt Benjamas Naree (built 2012) was searched at the weekend using sniffer dogs.

The Singapore-flag handysize was importing a cargo of coal from Colombia.

Federal police arrested three people who entered the port in a bid to recover the drugs.

An operation involving 10 vehicles and heavily armed East Flanders police officers was launched overnight on Sunday.

The amount of the drug found has not been specified.

The crew had reported two unknown men arriving at the quay near the ship.

They made up “excuses” to try to board, the report said.

But the seafarers told them this was not possible and the suspects then drove away.

Third seizure in recent weeks

A Dutch man and two Spaniards were later arrested by police.

They were said to be wearing fluorescent clothing and carrying backpacks while using walkie-talkies.

AIS data showed the ship heading to France on Friday.

Precious Shipping has been contacted for further information.

It is the third seizure in Ghent in a matter of weeks.

Last month, 40 kg of cocaine was found in bags of coal on a bulker and then a backpack with 25 kg of the drug inside was found secured to a hold wall with a magnet.