11 of the containers apparently contain ferrosilicon which according to the BBC’s website is flammable if it comes into contact with water. Wikipedia on the other hand says that “In contact with water, ferrosilicon may slowly produce hydrogen”. I’ll leave any chemists in the audience to their own conclusions.
The latest I’ve heard is that over a hundred containers have fallen off the ship which is now listing badly. In addition to the containers, there were around 1700 tonnes of oil aboard, of which 350 tonnes may have already leaked. Attempts to pump the oil off the ship on Sunday were abandoned when the weather deteriorated.
There is now a large crack in the hull, and the ship is still taking quite a pounding in the bad weather. There are plans to helicopter salvage workers on to reassess the damage tomorrow if it is possible. According to the New Zealand Herald, Prime Minister John Key this afternoon said the substantial fractures in the vessel made it much more likely to break up on the reef.
Oil has already reached some of the Bay of Plenty beaches, and a number of dead birds have been washed up. It is looking like being a major environmental disaster.
The captain and another officer have been charged with ‘operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk’.