The U.K. coast guard said on Monday its investigation of the wreck of the Ievoli Sun has so far revealed "no indication of a hit to the bow", one of the possible explanations for the loss of the chemical tanker in the English Channel on October 31.
Video footage from a remote operated vehicle is being examined on Monday to ascertain the extent of the damage to the vessel and to quantify the threat of further pollution.
"An initial survey...shows creases and superficial damage to the double hull forward of the accommodation block," says the UK Maritime and Coast Guard Agency (MCA).
"Superficial damage has been sustained around tank seven, which contains styrene. Number nine tank has been breached, and a small amount of styrene is leaking from there," added a spokesman.
The MCA points out that tank nine is a slop tank. Other experts say the fact that styrene is leaking from there suggests that an internal bulkhead has been ruptured, but this has not yet been substantiated.
This, however, sheds little light on the loss of the tanker. "That whole area of the hull was visible in the video footage of the ship sinking," said one maritime expert. "So the damage must have been caused when the ship hit the seabed."
Experts have been waiting for news of the condition of the bow, but the fact that no damage has been recorded there suggests the ship was not holed by a floating container - one of the more credible explanations to date.