Monday, October 17

Rena hits home

It’s been heart-breaking in recent days to watch an environment disaster unfolding along the coast of Mount Manguanui in New Zealand. The beachside city where my parents live has seen its pristine white sand beaches fouled by oil and debris from Rena, a container ship, that ran around on Astrolabe reef. The reef, roughly 20 kms offshore, was first marked on maps by early European explorers more than three hundred years ago, so its location is well known. Naturally questions are being raised as to how a modern ship ran into such a outcrop, at 17 knots , in broad daylight on a relatively calm sea.

Within days of running aground rough seas hit the region, stressing the vessel to the point that frightening large cracks have appeared along its midsection. The swell also left it leaning at a precarious angle, resulting in the loss of 88 containers so far, 30 of which are currently unaccounted for. This tally is expected to rise as more foul weather descends on the area.

For days now I’ve watched photo after photo published of a beach littered with cargo from burst containers (which include frozen meat patties and animal skins). Most distressing is the realisation that these images were shot from the beach metres from my parent’s home. This is the same beach that Garry and I were frolicking on as recently as January this year. Regular readers may recall we made good use of our jetlag one morning to venture down to the shore to watch the sun rise.

The opening image on this post was captured by Katie Cox earlier this week and published by the New Zealand Herald.  The other images are also taken from the Herald's files.  It's grim stuff.

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