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RENA Update from Maritime NZ (237)

Tuesday, 3 April 2012 4:00 p.m.

Heavy swells hitting the wreck of the cargo ship Rena have resulted in further containers being released from a hold in the bow section, Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) says.

The Astrolabe Reef is currently being hit with swells of up to 7m, with the heavy seas forecast to persist through the night, and ease tomorrow.

MNZ Tauranga Response and Recovery Manager David Billington said an observation flight this afternoon had confirmed the swells had forced a hatch cover off the number 3 hold in the bow section, and an estimated 10 containers had been released from the same hold.

One of these containers was seen floating near the wreck. It is possible the others have sunk to the seabed.

Mr Billington said no salvage operations could take place during the rough weather, but the salvage and container recovery teams were monitoring the situation and had contingency plans in place to respond as soon as weather conditions allowed.

He advised any boaties out on the water in the Bay of Plenty to take extra care and to observe the 2 nautical mile exclusion zone around the wreck site.

"There is debris in the water and this could cause damage if it comes into contact with your boat.

"Keep a really good lookout, and travel at a safe speed," he said.

Anyone who sees containers or debris is encouraged to report it to the Braemar Howells recovery team on 0800 333 771.

National On Scene Commander Rob Service said the rough seas had caused further damage to the wreck and a small amount of oil had been observed in the immediate vicinity.

"There is only a small amount of oil remaining on the wreck but, as we saw last week, even a small release can result in patches of oil reaching the shoreline," Mr Service said.

"Our teams remain ready to respond if this does happen."

Members of the public are encouraged to ring the oil hotline on 0800 OIL SPILL (0800 645 774) to report any sightings of oil.

RENA 3 April 2012