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270 shipping containers fell off MSC Zoe, the biggest cargo ship in Europe, during a storm on New Year’s Day. The containers washed up on Terschelling, Texel, Vlieland, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog, five islands off the Dutch north coast.

The MSC Zoe, which has a capacity of up to 19,000 containers, was near the German island of Borkum when Storm Zeetje hit, but the tide carried the containers south-west. Waves during the storm reportedly reached a height of 33ft.

Three of the containers contain toxic substances, raising concerns of pollution. One container washed up on Schiermonnikoog with a cargo of peroxide powder. Volunteers and soldiers have been contributing to a clean-up operation on the islands, but locals have been warned to steer clear of dangerous chemicals.

Toys, shoes, furniture and electronic items are among the debris, 130,000kg of which littered just one five mile stretch of Ameland beach.

With many missing containers still out at sea, there is also the risk of damage to other ships. Shipping company MSC has enlisted a salvage company to help locate the missing containers using sonar.

Source: BBC News

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