Severe weather in the South Pacific has caused the grounded Kea Trader to break in two over the weekend, further complicating an already difficult salvage operation that is now in its fifth month.
The Maltese-flagged MV Kea Trader was just a few months old when it ran aground on Durand Reef in New Caledonia on July 12, and it has remained stuck there ever since. Several attempts to refloat the vessel have been unsuccessful.
Last month, the owner of the vessel, Lomar Shipping, declared the ship a total loss and said it would have to be scrapped.
Although crews were able to remove the the bulk of the fuel and cargo on board, the vessel still contains an unspecified amount of residual oil and about 100 containers below deck.
Authorities said a few containers were lost overboard when it broke up over the weekend.
According to officials all salvage personnel had been evacuated from the ship in anticipation of the severe weather.
The cause grounding is still under investigation.