The MV Rena has broken apart and the stern has sunk in the latest twist in the salvage operation to protect wildlife and the coastline after the cargo ship hit the Astrolabe reef on 5th October. Most of the oil from the vessel has been collected but at least 100 tonnes remain on board. Cargo containers holding timber and milk powder are afloat.
Recent storms with 20ft (6m) waves have smashed the ship with the stern now slipping off the reef and the bow firmly wedged. Salvage operators and environmentalists have stated that the Rena accident is the worst maritime environmental disaster to hit New Zealand's coastline.
In the meantime the Captain and senior officers have been arrested following 16 charges with the main allegation being that the crew took a short cut across the reef rather than following the well marked route into Tauranga.