Authorities in New Zealand warned Monday morning that more oil is likely to spill into the Bay of Plenty, as bad weather stalls efforts to drain oil from a cargo ship that ran around on a reef on October 5.
Agence France Presse reported that salvage crews pumped about 20 tones of fuel overnight Sunday from the MV Rena. An estimated 1300 tones remain aboard.
Officials say the vessel is listing badly on the Astrolabe Reef – 14 miles from Tauranga Harbor on New Zealand's North Island – and AFP described removing the oil as a “painstaking, dangerous operation”.
Maritime New Zealand salvage manager Bruce Anderson said crew worked overnight pumping oil from the MV Rena, which has huge cracks in its hull and could reportedly break apart at any time:
It was hairy. This thing is groaning and creaking and making huge noises. It's a vessel dying.
More than 350 tones of fuel have already leaked into the ocean, killing more than 1,000 sea birds.
According to the BBC, earlier attempts to remove fuel were abandoned a week ago due to bad weather.
(GlobalPost in pictures: Fears stricken ship off New Zealand may break up (VIDEO)
Maritime New Zealand said more coastal communities in the Bay of Plenty were braced for the slick to wash up on beaches.
The Liberian-flagged MV Rena was under contract by the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) when it hit the reef.
MSC has denied liability for the disaster, but AFP reported that it was willing to help foot the clean-up bill, even though it was not legally obliged to do so.
Watch a raw feed of the oil clean up: