MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company has started a clean-up operation after one of its containerships lost 270 containers during a heavy storm in the North Sea.
The MSC Zoe, one of the largest containerships in the world with a TEU capacity of 19,200, had just left Bremerhaven, Germany, on January 2 when the containers were lost overboard.
Dozens of the containers, with items including flat screen TVs, sportswear and chairs, have washed up on the West Frisian Islands, a chain of North Sea islands just off the Dutch coast.
This video from German news website THBInfo shows the clean-up underway on one of the islands.
The Dutch Coast Guard has warned ships in the area to beware floating containers and said that three with hazardous materials have not yet been located.
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A statement from MSC said: “MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company has started a clean-up operation in response to a substantial spill of containers in the North Sea.
“The cargo ship MSC Zoe encountered heavy weather while sailing toward Bremerhaven, Germany, on 2 January.
“Unfortunately, a number of the containers were damaged or lost overboard amid very difficult conditions.
“MSC appointed on 2 January a salvage company to coordinate the retrieval of cargo and beach clean-up operations and is also deploying specialised ships equipped with sonar to search for missing cargo at sea.
“MSC takes this incident very seriously, both in terms of the impact of such accidents on the natural environment and in terms of any damage to customers’ cargo.
“In all aspects of the clean-up MSC is collaborating with local authorities”.
MSC, the second biggest container shipping company in the world by market share, also said it was investigating what caused the containers to fall overboard.