The military has joined a race against the clock to prevent an environmental disaster in New Zealand, as oil begins to wash up on a popular beach.
Weather is deteriorating off the coast of Tauranga and Mount Maunganui, hampering attempts to pump 1,700 tonnes of oil from a damaged container ship grounded on a reef.
Local fisherman Barry Connolly spoke to euronews about the anger felt by many in the area. He lives along the stretch of beach where oil has been found and he can see the stranded ship from his house.
“Anybody that hit that reef should really be taken to task over it,” he said. “There’s no excuse for hitting something like that. It’s well chartered, there’s a lighthouse on the island that is right next to it. It’s on every marine chart, and with modern electronics, well there’s just no excuse.
“I think there is a lot of anger, and I think justifiably so,” he added. “As to the lack of immediate response, I think a lot of people, probably me included, thought that there would be tankers or something out there the next day, trying to get the fuel off, or something like that, but I realise that these sort of things take a lot of organising. I just hope that somebody at the top cuts a bit of the red tape and gets on with it pretty quickly.”
An inquiry is under way into how the Liberian-registered ship came to be stuck on a well-known reef, with the government saying it will investigate whether the captain had been drinking.
Bad weather is forecast in the area for the next few days, making a quick salvage effort seem less likely.