New Zealand oil spill 'worst maritime disaster'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

An oil spill from a container ship stuck on a reef off New Zealand's coast is the country's worst environmental maritime disaster, a government minister said today.

The Liberian-flagged Rena has been foundering since it ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef, about 14 miles (22km) from Tauranga Harbour last Wednesday.

Maritime New Zealand, which is managing the emergency response, said today that the ship shifted significantly overnight in rough conditions.

Environment Minister Nick Smith said the oil flow has increased fivefold since the initial days after the grounding and that up to 390 tons of heavy oil spilled from the hull today.

He told reporters that the accident "is New Zealand's most significant environmental maritime disaster".