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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 February 2007, 16:06 GMT
Cargo removal speeded by weather
More than 400 of the Napoli's containers have been removed
Improved weather has allowed salvors to speed up work to remove containers from the stricken MSC Napoli.

Sixty containers were taken off on Friday after 10 more were lost overboard in strong winds on Thursday.

Residual oil from flooded compartments around the ship also washed ashore, renewing fears for seabirds.

But the RSPCA West Hatch centre in Somerset, which is treating hundreds of oiled birds, said only a few had been admitted in the past few days.

The 62,000-tonne cargo ship was grounded off the Devon coast on 20 January.

The smallest amount of oil can destroy birds' insulating abilities and waterproofing
Paul Oaten, RSPCA Wildlife officer

Twenty-six crew had abandoned the vessel and were airlifted to safety when a storm damaged its hull.

The MSC Napoli was then deliberately grounded near Branscombe Beach in Lyme Bay - a World Heritage Site.

About 200 tonnes of oil leaked into the sea, forming an oil slick several kilometres long and about 30m wide.

More than 1,000 seabirds have been affected by the oil contamination which damages feathers and can be absorbed through the skin, damaging internal organs.

Oiled bird
The RSPCA wildlife centre has put 300 oiled birds to sleep

Paul Oaten, a wildlife officer at the RSPCA West Hatch centre, told BBC news staff were worried when they heard more oil had come ashore on Thursday.

"It may just be residual oil, but any oil has the potential to cause damage to sea birds," he said.

"Even the smallest amount of oil can destroy birds' insulating abilities and waterproofing."

Of the 995 birds admitted, 29 have died, 300 have been put to sleep, and 224 transferred to other treatment centres.

Mr Oaten said he was fairly optimistic about the survival chances of the 450 remaining birds at West Hatch.

"I'm really pleased with the new triage system we've been using. Looking at some of the birds I'd say they're in a much better condition and now have a much better chance of survival."

The stricken MSA Napoli loses more cargo in strong winds

The centre has begun releasing some seabirds back to the sea off the North Devon coast.

It is expected it will take about a year to get the cargo off the vessel and then salvage or recover it.

More than 400 of the remaining 1,800 containers on board the listing ship have now been removed.

Two salvage vessels are being used to remove the containers and transport them to Portland port in Dorset.

About 110 containers have been lost overboard, 58 of which have washed ashore.

Motorbikes, wine barrels, face cream and nappies were among the items washed up at Branscombe.

This led to hundreds of people descending on the beach scavenging for "bounty".

Lost cargo has also appeared on beaches more than 30 miles away in Torbay.

The view from on board MSC Napoli


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