2011 Rena Ship stuck on a Reef, New ZealandPicture: AP Photo/Maritime New Zealand, Blair Harkness
TAURANGA, NEW ZEALAND— The ship has been foundering since it ran aground Oct. 5 on the Astrolabe Reef, about 22km from Tauranga Harbour on New Zealand’s North Island. The government has demanded to know why the ship crashed into the well-charted reef in calm weather, but the ship’s owner has given no explanation.Hundreds of tons of heavy fuel oil have spilled from the hull, leading New Zealand’s environment minister, Nick Smith, to call it the country’s biggest maritime environmental disaster.
The condition of a stricken cargo ship stuck on a reef and leaking oil off the coast of New Zealand with about 70 containers falling overboard and the vessel moving onto a steeper lean. Fears are growing that the stricken container ship Rena, stuck on a New Zealand reef, may break up and release a new tide of oil as its captain was charged over the nation's worst maritime pollution disaster. Officials fear the storm, packing 40-knot winds and 12ft swells, could force the 47,000-tonne heavily laden Rena to break up and cause widespread pollution along the Bay of Plenty coast.
Residents of Tauranga and the nearby seaside resort of Mount Maunganui were warned to stay away from the water as “highly toxic” sticky globules of oil began to wash up on pristine beaches. The oil is being driven ashore by strong north-easterly winds. Dead seabirds covered in the thick, tar-like substance were being found and fears were mounting for seals, dolphins, rare birds and other wildlife. Several oiled birds, including little blue penguins, were recovered and taken to a wildlife facility. Clumps of the oil have washed up on pristine beaches near Tauranga, and environmental officials said 53 birds were found dead and 17 were getting emergency treatment to remove oil from their feathers.
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