Container ship breaks apart, wreaking oil havoc on Taiwan coast

(Left) A worker collecting oil spilled from a container ship owned by T.S. Lines off Shimen, New Taipei City, Taiwan, yesterday. The 15,487-tonne ship ran aground in a storm about 300m from the shore while it was sailing from Hong Kong to Keelung Por
A worker collecting oil spilled from a container ship owned by T.S. Lines off Shimen, New Taipei City, Taiwan, yesterday.PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESS PHOTO AGENCY
(Left) A worker collecting oil spilled from a container ship owned by T.S. Lines off Shimen, New Taipei City, Taiwan, yesterday. The 15,487-tonne ship ran aground in a storm about 300m from the shore while it was sailing from Hong Kong to Keelung Por
The vessel was carrying about 407 tonnes of fuel, about half of which has been pumped out. However, pumping had to be halted on Friday when the ship broke in two (above). PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESS PHOTO AGENCY

A worker collecting oil spilled from a container ship owned by T.S. Lines off Shimen, New Taipei City, Taiwan, yesterday.

The 15,487-tonne ship ran aground in a storm about 300m from the shore while it was sailing from Hong Kong to Keelung Port in Taiwan on March 10.

All 21 crew members were evacuated safely but a helicopter crashed during the clean-up operation, killing two and seriously hurting one.

The vessel was carrying about 407 tonnes of fuel, about half of which has been pumped out. However, pumping had to be halted on Friday when the ship broke in two.

Some containers have also tumbled off into the sea.

Among the vessel's cargo are nine containers bearing hazardous goods.

Taiwan's Environmental Protection Administration director Ye Jun-hong said that his staff are preparing for the worst.

More than 100 workers have been working to contain the leak but bad weather has hampered clean-up efforts.

Environmentalists warn that if the spill, which is near a fishing port and nuclear power plant, is not contained in time, its damage to the ecosystem could last for two to three years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 27, 2016, with the headline 'Container ship breaks apart, wreaking oil havoc on Taiwan coast'. Print Edition | Subscribe