Dozens scour beach for stricken ship's cargo

Part of the English coastline became a potential gold mine for scavengers today.

Part of the English coastline became a potential gold mine for scavengers today.

Dozens of people swarmed over the pebble beach at Branscombe, Devon exploring the contents of containers from the stricken vessel Napoli.

One eyewitness said: “People are looking through what had come out of the containers, putting things in paper bags and taking them away.”

Around 20 containers from the Napoli – grounded within sight of the shore about a mile out at sea – have washed up.

Cargo which has spilled out include a four-by-four vehicle, BMW motorbikes, car parts, casks, nappies and personal effects.

One motorbike was seen being taken away from the beach on a tractor.

Police are on the beach telling members of the public the procedures to follow after recovering items from the containers.

Whatever has been taken from the containers should be reported to the receiver of wreck.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency Lyme Bay manager Peter Pritchard said one container had washed up at Seatown near Bridport.

And goods including dog food and biscuits had been washed up in that area.

Mr Pritchard said it was the responsibility of the company which owned the Napoli to clean up the beach.

Hundreds of looters have been carrying away goods washed ashore from the stricken Napoli.

The pebble crescent of Branscombe beach is littered with around 40 containers from the vessel, which is clearly in sight a mile offshore.

Branscombe Police beat manager Pc Steve Speariett said today: “A couple of hundred people have been on the beach today, taking things away, and there were around the same number last night.

“Around 15 BMW motorbikes were carried off the beach last night,” he said.

A tractor was submerged just off the beach, he said. Other products carried away were beauty cream, steering wheels and exhaust pipes.

Ten police were on the beach today to prevent containers being broken open.

They were also telling members of the public of their obligation to report anything taken to the Receiver of Wreck with 28 days.

Failure to do so was an offence.

The public interest in the wreck was so great today that the police were stopping all visitor traffic entering the centre of Branscombe, and the narrow road to the beach was closed except for access.

Despite this, people were parking in nearby country lanes and walking around a mile to the beach to see what the sea had washed up.

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