A helicopter sprays dispersant on the oil slick that has started leaking from the container ship, Rena, which is stuck on a reef about 12 nautical miles off the coast of Tauranga.
A helicopter sprays dispersant on the oil slick that has started leaking from the container ship, Rena, which is stuck on a reef about 12 nautical miles off the coast of Tauranga. Bay of Plenty Times

Massive new oil spill from ship in NZ

AN oil spill from the stricken cargo ship off the coast of Tauranga in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty has increased in size "several times over'' due to a new breach in a main fuel tank.

Maritime New Zealand said between 130 and 350 tonnes of oil leaked out of the Rena this morning.

It had previously estimated a spill of between 20 and 30 tonnes.

A spokesman said the massive new spill meant oil was now spewing from a main fuel tank on the vessel.

He said oil was continuing to leak from the tank and was heading south west towards Mt Maunganui.

"One of the main tanks has been breached. It is very significant in the scheme of things.''

Meanwhile, the Awanui - which had been used to pump fuel off the Rena - was not on the water today because of minor damage received yesterday.

It was not known when it would return to the Rena.

Earlier a mayday call was made from the stricken ship Rena, and a call for a complete evacaution of all crew and others on the ship.

But a spokesperson for Maritime New Zealand said the mayday call was a ``standard precautionary measure''.

"The ship is not breaking up. Yes, a mayday call has gone out but that is just standard precautionary measure to get the crew off,'' she said.

"The crew has come off for safety reasons and they will stay off until it is safe enough and then go back on.

"They do the mayday call as that is the way to get them off quickly.''

Tauranga Coastguard operations manager Simon Barker said the coastguard was not called on and was aware the Navy were called to assist.

All non-essential crew had already been lifted off after the ship moved.

The ship, stuck on Astrolabe Reef off Tauranga moved overnight from a 11 degree to a six degree list because the rock pinnacle it was on was crushed, Maritime New Zealand said.

Read more about the oil spill on the Bay of Plenty Times
 



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