Hayley Hannan –
Up to 300 containers from the stricken ship Rena have been washed overboard and most are likely to sink, authorities say.
At a press conference held in Tauranga a spokeswoman from environmental cleanup specialist Braemar Howells, Claudine Sharpe, said “200 to 300 containers” had been washed overboard after the ship was pounded by heavy swells up to six metres last night.
The ship’s stern is now listing at 23 degrees to starboard while the bow section remains firmly wedged on Astrolabe Reef, which it crashed into on October 5.
This morning Maritime New Zealand officials flew over the ship which was surrounded by murky waters as tonnes of milk powder from one of the containers spilled out.
Of the missing containers, Ms Sharpe said 30 had been identified and 15 of those tagged and corralled in an offshore area. “At this stage we have lost quite a lot of containers,” she said.
“We are looking at a round figure of around 200 to 300 containers. Of those, 20 per cent will float – the remainder will sink.”
Ms Sharpe said the top most containers had been tagged with transponders and she was confident these would be recovered. She said resources were in place if anything comes ashore.
“We will deal with it, but as I said our main priority is to stop it coming ashore if we can.”
Maritime New Zealand salvage unit manager Dave Billington said reports of containers being lost overboard started coming through last night about 8pm.