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Netherlands warns of toxic chemicals after containers tossed from cargo ship

Jan. 3 (UPI) — A Panama-registered cargo ship lost some 270 containers during a storm in the North Sea this week, including three carrying toxic chemicals.

The ship, the MSC Zoe, was en route to Bremerhaven, Germany, on Wednesday when it encountered the bad weather, identified locally as Storm Zeetje. The vessel was near the German island of Borkum at the time, and the tide carried some of the containers toward the southwest, the BBC reported.

Some of the cargo washed up on islands off the northern Dutch coast, including toys, televisions, shoes, bags, chairs, plastic cups and other items.

Officials were worried about three containers carrying toxic substances, including one with bags of peroxide powder, one of which washed ashore on the island of Schiermonnikoog. Officials warned residents to stay away from the cargo.

“This is truly a disaster. How are we going to clean this up?” an environmentalist on Schiermonnikoog , Cynthia Borras, said. “We were prepared for an oil disaster but not this.”

The Mediterranean Shipping Company, which owns the MSC Zoe, contracted with a salvage company to clean up the containers and their contents. The company is using specialized ships with sonar equipment to search for the containers missing at sea.

“MSC takes this incident very seriously, both in terms of the impact of such accidents on the natural environment and in terms of any damage to customers’ cargo,” MSC said.

Volunteers assisted with the cleanup on the island of Terschelling.

The MSC Zoe is one of the largest cargo ships to be used in Europe, holding up to 19,000 containers.

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