UK tanker trouble sparks chemical pollution scare

A search has begun for signs of pollution after 50 containers were thrown into the sea when a cargo ship beached off the coast of Devon in England.

A search has begun for signs of pollution after 50 containers were thrown into the sea when a cargo ship beached off the coast of Devon in England.

Coastguards spent the night on alert after severe gales rocked the MSC Napoli, which is carrying 2,400 containers, some of which contain potentially dangerous chemicals.

Sightseeing members of the public have been warned to stay away from the ship, which been beached near the coast in Sidmouth, Devon, because of the risk posed by the containers.

There are fears of pollution from the rear of the 62,000 tonne ship and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) sent an aircraft to survey the area. A spokesman for the MCA said 50 coastguards were out looking for the containers.

The 40ft long containers that are missing include one containing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of BMW motorbikes, one full of car parts and two containing empty oak barrels.

The MCA spokesman said: "After discussions with Devon Police we are asking members of the public not to have a look because the containers washing around the ship increase the risk.

"We don't want anyone to approach the containers, if they see them just ring the coastguard."

The London registered ship was at the centre of a storm-lashed rescue operation in the English Channel on Thursday after it was disabled when the engine room flooded more than 40 miles from the Cornish coast.

All 26 crew of the Napoli were plucked to safety by rescue helicopters as they abandoned the ship in 40ft seas and 70mph winds.

After the rescue operation had finished the drifting vessel was secured and was being towed to Portland for a salvage operation but the MCA took the decision to beach it off the coast of Sidmouth following a "serious structural failure".

More in this section

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox