Container with eleven million cigarettes washes up on devon coast — will it be first of many?

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A huge shipping container with as many as 11 million cigarettes inside has washed up on the Lyme Bay coast this morning but police are warning any wreckers ‘looking for free fags’ to stay well away.

Officers have cordoned off the beach near Beer, Devon, where the 40ft long Maersk shipping container was floating in shallow water, and could be left aground in the high tide this lunchtime.

It contains 14 tonnes of cigarettes and the container was one of a reported 517 to be washed off a cargo ship in the Bay of Biscay at the end of last week.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency are arranging recovery of the container, but with news of the container and the fact it could be the first of many to come ashore on the Dorset and Devon coast in the coming days police have a issued a stern ‘hands off’ warning.

«At the moment the container is still in shallow water and is floating, so is not accessible,» said a spokesman for Devon & Cornwall police.

«We will wait to see if it does come ashore with the high tide or float off again, but the police and the MCA were expecting it, and arrangements are in place to recover it.

«It was reported by a member of the public at 8.10am this morning and officers are on scene to make sure no one puts themselves at risk to recover anything.

«The contents belong initially to the original owner of the container, and then to the official Receiver of Wrecks, so anyone taking anything that washes ashore, even one packet of cigarettes, is effectively committing theft and will be prosecuted.

«If challenged by police at the scene, they have no option but to hand back what they have recovered. So the message to anyone intending to go down there looking for free fags is don’t bother,» he added.

News of the cargo ship shedding hundreds of its containers has sparked fears of a wreckers’ spree along the Dorset and Devon coast, but the Coastguard is understood to believe very few will make it to England.

«We’re told most of them would have sunk or washed up in France, but this was one that bobbed its way all the way to here,» said the police spokesman. «The police and the MCA were expecting it, we just did not know where on the coast it would arrive. It might well be the only one to make it this far,» he added.

If full, the 40ft shipping container could have had as many as 55,511 cartons of cigarettes, meaning there could be 11,102,200 cigarettes floating just feet from the beach.

A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said it was informed that a number of containers were lost from a Maersk cargo ship as it crossed the northern stretches of the Bay of Biscay in stormy conditions on Friday 14 February.

«Most of the containers were empty and are believed to have sunk approximately 75 nautical miles south west of Lands End in French waters. The MCA’s aerial surveillance aircraft has been searching UK waters, and ships passing through the English Channel have been warned and asked to report any sightings,» a spokesman said.

Simon Porter, MCA Counter Pollution and Salvage Officer, added «We have been carrying out extensive searches over the last four days and spotted three containers, one of which has since come ashore and the other two are mid Channel. We are now working closely with Maersk to ensure they recover their containers, which are their property.

«The Beer Coastguard Rescue Team, police and council officials are currently on scene at Axmouth beach and the container has been cordoned off.

«The public is reminded that all wreck material found in the UK has to be reported to the MCA’s Receiver of Wreck by completing a form on our website

«Those who don’t declare items are breaking the law and could find themselves facing hefty fines and paying the owner twice the value of the item recovered,» he added.

Latest: another mystery container spotted at sea off south devon

Another container has been sighted floating past Start Point this morning.

Salcombe Sea N Shore ( SeaNshore) February 26, 2014

It is estimated that the shipping container that washed up on a South Devon beach at the weekend could have contained more than 11 million cigarettes.

Police were forced to patrol the beach near Axmouth to warn off treasure hunters.

The 40ft Maersk container, which weighed 14 tonnes, could have had 55,511 cartons of cigarettes inside, meaning 11,102,200 could have been floating just feet from the beach.

A spokesman for Portland Coastguard said the container, which was full, was recovered and emptied by the UK Border Agency yesterday.

He said that a second container which was picked up off Portland is currently being towed into port.

He said «The third container which was spotted yesterday about 12 miles off Portland has been lost, so it has either sunk or it is very low in the water.

«We’re asking people to keep an eye out for it.»

The Danish containers were among 517 washed off a cargo ship during storms in the Bay of Biscay earlier this month.

Boat owners in South Devon have been warned to be on their guard for the containers which could pose a threat to mariners.

Police officers, who cordoned off the beach near Axmouth after the container washed ashore in the early hours of Sunday morning, issued a stern warning to anyone hoping to pick up a free packet of soggy cigarettes.

A police spokesman said on Sunday «We will wait to see if it does come ashore with the high tide or float off again, but the police and the MCA were expecting it, and arrangements are in place to recover it.

«It was reported by a member of the public at 8.10am this morning and officers are on scene to make sure no one puts themselves at risk to recover anything.

«The contents belong initially to the original owner of the container, and then to the official Receiver of Wrecks, so anyone taking anything that washes ashore, even one packet of cigarettes, is effectively committing theft and will be prosecuted.

«If challenged by police at the scene, they have no option but to hand back what they have recovered.

«So the message to anyone intending to go down there looking for free fags is don’t bother.»

The same message applies should any more containers float ashore.

The 1998 built ship which was carrying the containers was reportedly heading from Rotterdam to Sri Lanka when the containers toppled into the sea after it was caught in a fierce storm on February 14.

It is understood they fell into the water when six compartments of the ship, known as ‘bays’, titled over when winds forced the ship to roll up to 40 degrees.

None of the crew was injured, but it is reported to be the biggest loss of containers that Maersk has ever suffered.

It is thought some of the containers were empty and many have already sunk.

The MCA’s aerial surveillance aircraft has been searching UK waters, and ships passing through the English Channel have been warned and asked to report any sightings.

Simon Porter, MCA counter pollution and salvage officer, said on Sunday «We have been carrying out extensive searches over the last four days and spotted three containers, one of which has since come ashore and the other two are mid Channel. We are now working closely with Maersk to ensure they recover their containers, which are their property.

«The Beer Coastguard Rescue Team, police and council officials are currently on scene at Axmouth beach and the container has been cordoned off.

«The public is reminded that all wreck material found in the UK has to be reported to the MCA’s Receiver of Wreck by completing a form on our website.

«Those who don’t declare items are breaking the law and could find themselves facing hefty fines and paying the owner twice the value of the item recovered.»


5 комментариев to “Container with eleven million cigarettes washes up on devon coast — will it be first of many?”

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