Damaged Ship Threatens Pollution

Monday, January 22, 2007
A damaged container ship, off the English coast and listing badly, has started to shed some of its load of cargo containers in heavy winds. Coastguards said they were on alert because the vessel could break up.

The stricken MSC Napoli was deliberately run aground in waters close to Sidmouth, southwest England, after it was damaged during a storm on Thursday. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has confirmed two of the containers are carrying dangerous materials, including battery acid and perfume, and that oil has also leaked onto the shore.

Navy helicopters rescued the vessel's 26 crew members in rough seas, 45 miles off Lizard Point on England's southwest tip. French maritime officials said that of the 41,700 tons of merchandise in the ship's 2,400 containers, 1,700 tons were considered dangerous, including explosive and flammable material. The containers also hold motorcycles, car parts and oak barrels. Britain's Maritime and Coastguard Agency said more than 150 containers from the ship had slid into the sea as new gales struck the English coast late on Saturday.

The 16-year-old vessel is registered in London and was last inspected by authorities in May 2005, when officials said it met safety standards. Source: AP

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