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Stern of NZ wreck sinks

ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION The stern section of a grounded cargo ship has sunk off the New Zealand reef where it has been stuck for three months, complicating salvage efforts in one of the nation's worst environmental disasters in decades. The rear section of the 47,230-tonne Liberian-flagged Rena moved to the edge of the reef, about 22 km (12 miles) off Tauranga on the east coast of New Zealand, where it has been wedged since early October. Debris and oil was floating around the area where the section went down. The Rena broke in two on Sunday (January 8) after being pounded by waves of up to 6 metres (20 feet), spewing more oil and more than a hundred containers into the sea. The bow section of the 236-metre (775-foot) ship is still upright and wedged on the reef. Maritime authorities and salvage crews had removed most of the thick, toxic fuel oil and nearly 400 containers from the ship, which ran aground in calm conditions on October 5. But fuel and cargo have continued to leak in rough seas, causing New Zealand's worst environmental disaster in decades. A large amount of cargo - timber, plastic, and bags of milk powder - has washed up on beaches as far as 60 km (37.3 miles) from the ship, and more than 20 containers have washed up on a nearby island. Thousands of birds were killed by the earlier spill and it has taken months to clean up the shore in an area popular with holiday makers and surfers . The Rena's captain and navigation officer, both Philippine nationals, have been charged with operating a vessel in a dangerous manner, and releasing toxic substances. They also face charges of attempting to pervert justice by allegedly altering documents after the grounding.

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