NZ Shipwreck Breaks Apart, Threatens New Oil Spill

Nearly 400 tons of oil could leak as storms pound wreck
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Suggested by Larry-Crehore
Posted Jan 8, 2012 7:00 AM CST
NZ Shipwreck Breaks Apart, Threatens New Oil Spill
In this photo provided by Maritime New Zealand, the stranded cargo ship Rena has broken into two pieces after overnight storms off Tauranga Harbor, New Zealand.   (AP Photo/Maritime New Zealand)

A cargo ship that has been grounded off the New Zealand coast since October broke in two last night, spilling more debris and raising fears of further oil leakage, reports the AP. Nearly 400 tons of oil leaked into the ocean soon after the Rena ran aground, and 1,100 tons were removed from the ship soon after, but 385 tons still remained aboard. "While reports at this stage indicate there has not been a significant release of oil, with the Rena in its current fragile state, a further release is likely," said the commander of the New Zealand response team.

Officials say that a storm split the ship in two, with 300 of the 880 containers on board spilling into the sea, and 19-foot waves continue to move the wreckage "significantly." About 30 of those washed overboard have already been located. The shipwreck was already considered New Zealand's worst maritime environmental disaster, but fresh oil has been seen leaking from the broken ship, and was expected to wash ashore by tonight. (More New Zealand stories.)

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