Debris washes ashore as containers lost off Netherlands News Lens

Lydia FlemingJan 05, 2019

The container ship - identified by officials as the MSC Zoe - is suspected to have lost cargo during an overnight storm off the coastal border between Germany and the Netherlands.

The mayor of Terschelling island, where some of the cargo washed ashore, told Dutch broadcaster NOS that he expected it would take several days to clear the beach of stray items from the containers.

The group, including German and Dutch tourists, were trying to pick up Styrofoam before it washed back out to sea. German authorities say two of them contained risky substances: organic peroxide in one case and lithium-ion batteries in the other.

"We strongly advise residents and people who have come to clean the beaches to. immediately seek medical attention if they come into contact with the bags (containing organic peroxide)", Zwart said, warning that the chemical substance "can cause burns".

The Dutch coastguard estimates that 270 containers were lost overboard. Others were floating or stranded off the coasts of Ameland and Schiermonnikoog, part of a chain of islands that guard the Dutch coast.

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German authorities said that most of the containers located so far were in Dutch waters.

Shipping company MSC issued a statement on Wednesday saying it had appointed 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.

Volunteers collect the washed up content from containers onboard of the Panamian-flagged MSC Zoe vessel in Moddergat, on January 3, 2019.

MSC said it was taking the 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".

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