A cargo ship that ran aground off New Zealand in October has split in two. Up to 300 containers have been lost overboard and a fresh oil spill is feared.
Response teams have been mobilised to tackle the latest emergency in what has been called the country’s worst maritime disaster.
“Certainly it is true that the potential for recovery of containers on the stern section of the vessel has now become an order of magnitude, more difficult given the extent of the damage to the ship,” said New Zealand’s Environment Minister Nick Smith.
The Greek-owned Rena has been stranded on a reef off Tauranga on New Zealand’s North Island for the last three months.
Its captain and navigating officer face criminal charges over the shipwreck and the environmental damage that followed. The ship broke up in stormy weather on Saturday night.
Clean-up teams expect any oil washed ashore in the coming days to be much less than the initial disaster when hundreds of tonnes spilled into the water. Up to 20,000 seabirds were killed and popular holiday beaches fouled as the fuel reached the coast.