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NZ cargo ship splits in two

ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION A stricken container ship wedged on a reef off a popular New Zealand holiday spot has broken up but is still on the reef after running aground three months ago, maritime authorities said on Sunday (January 8). The 47,230-tonne Liberian-flagged Rena has been stranded on a reef 22 km (12 miles) miles off Tauranga on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island since running aground on Oct. 5. Maritime New Zealand spokesman Ross Henderson said in a statement that ship had separated into two pieces, now 20-30 metres apart. Henderson said the 236-metre ship was pounded by wild weather overnight, with weather conditions expected to remain poor for the next three to four days. The maritime authorities said there has been a significant discharge of containers and container debris from the ship, which may lead to an extension of the current exclusion zone. Rena's captain and navigation officer, both Philippine nationals, have been charged with operating a vessel in a dangerous manner, and releasing toxic substances, which carry maximum fines of 300,000 New Zealand dollars or two years in prison. They are due to reappear in court next month. The vessel is owned by Daina Shipping, a unit of Greece's Costamare Inc. and was under charter to Mediterranean Shipping.

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