Twenty six crew members have been rescued from a striken container ship just off the coast of England.
The 62,000 tonne British container ship the MSC Napoli owned by Mediterranean Shipping Company carrying 2,400 containers bound for the port of Sines south of Lisbon, Portugal sent a distress call at about 10.30 GMT on Thursday January 18 following the discovery that a 1 metre by 0.5 metre hole was letting in water.
The 275 metre long ship which has a capacity of 4,400 containers was beached in Lyme Bay, near Sidmouth following a decision by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency after structural failure fears. The decision was made to stop the ship from breaking up in deep water allowing its cargo which includes 150 containers housing potentially hazardous material from polluting the area.
During severe force nine south-westerly gales with swells ranging from 8 to 9 metres and winds exceeding 70 kph, some containers were thrown from the ship although it is believed none of them contain the hazardous cargo, although coastguards are looking for the missing 40 foot containers one of which is said to contain hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of BMW motorbikes.
Coastguards have reported that up to 200 of the containers, some of which contain battery acid and perfume, have come loose from the ship.