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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 November 2007, 13:18 GMT
Winds 'battering' listing Napoli
MSC Napoli listing in bad weather
Some metal debris has been washed ashore at Branscombe
Barges and tugs working alongside the wrecked MSC Napoli have been moved to safety as strong winds batter the vessel off the east Devon coast.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the remaining section of the ship in Lyme Bay has moved and is listing at more than 30 degrees.

It said there was no shelter for the ship in the bay with force seven winds coming from a southerly direction.

Debris is being washed ashore and a diesel sheen can be seen on the water.

Salvage workers, who were trying to remove the metal debris from Branscombe beach, were forced to retreat as large waves crashed onto the shore.

It is not known whether the debris is from the recent cutting and dismantling work or from containers which were lost overboard in January.

The MCA said the Napoli would be more protected if the winds veered to the west, with Lyme Bay being a famous point of shelter.

We're victims of the weather
MCA spokeswoman

"The barges were taken away because of the bad weather," an MCA spokeswoman told BBC News.

"We've got south/south westerlies battering the vessel and it is listing about 30 degrees to starboard.

"But there's no-one on board and there's nothing anyone can do at the moment. We're victims of the weather."

Work to prepare the wrecked cargo ship had been progressing well.

Stern of the MSC Napoli, grounded off Sidmouth
It is hoped the Napoli will be moved from Lyme Bay by the end of April

The final section of the four-tonne accommodation block was cut and removed on Friday.

The ship was deliberately grounded in Lyme Bay in January after it was damaged in a storm.

Twenty-six crew members were rescued from the Napoli when it was hit by gale-force winds on 18 January off the Lizard when it was en route from Antwerp to South Africa.

The vessel was being towed to Portland, Dorset, when it was decided to ground her off Branscombe amid fears she could sink.

About 100 containers went overboard and 58 were washed ashore, leading to a scavenging and looting spree.

The 62,000 tonne vessel was stripped of its 2,300 containers before being split in half in July. The bow section was floated to Northern Ireland.

It is hoped the MSC Napoli will be removed from Lyme Bay by the end of April.

The salvage operation has cost more than 50m.


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