Scavengers on the beach in southwest England and carted away motorcycles, wine barrels, car parts and tennis shoes spilling from a container ship damaged in recent storms and listing about a mile off shore.
The British cargo ship was deliberately run aground close to the Devonshire resort of Sidmouth, 165 miles southwest of London after it was damaged during a storm Thursday. Its crew of 26 was rescued.French officials said that of the 41,700 tons of merchandise, 1,700 tons were considered dangerous, including battery acid and flammable material. The containers also
hold motorcycles, car parts, oak barrels and household possessions being moved to new homes.
Oil and other toxic materials leaking from the ship threatened Sidmouth and Branscombe beaches, part of 95 miles of coast designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site because of the rich fossil beds found along the shore. Small fishing ports along the Devon and Dorset coast rely on the tourist trade to survive.
At least 200 containers went overboard, including three carrying toxic materials such as battery acid and perfume.
Tony Redding of Zodiac Maritime Agencies, manager of the stricken MSC Napoli
, said that some oil had leaked from the ship but the main tanks were secure. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said some birds affected by oil had been rescued.
Booms were placed in the River Axe and River Brid to prevent fuel getting into the fresh water system.