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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 15:47 GMT
Grounded Napoli 'will be removed'
Unloading of Napoli
The entire Napoli clear-up will take up to a year
Salvage experts in charge of the recovery of the MSC Napoli, grounded off Lyme Bay in Devon, are planning to remove the ship from the coast.

The 62,000-tonne cargo ship was grounded off Branscombe Beach after starting to break up in stormy weather.

Naval architects are now working out the best way to move the vessel, which was grounded in January.

Meanwhile, people who recovered items washed ashore after it was beached have until 20 February to report the finds.

Thousands of items recovered by members of the public from washed-up containers from the vessel have been reported to the Receiver of Wreck.

Failure to do so is a criminal offence under the Merchant Shipping Act.

BBC News correspondent Alex Bushill said the authorities were pleased with items reported so far.

Number crunching

"The Maritime and Coastguard Agency have been saying that they are pleasantly surprised with the response, most notably with the reporting of many of the BMW motorbikes which were taken from the beach," he said.

However, he added that the authorities were "pretty realistic about their chances of being able to trace every single item removed".

Mr Middleton, the secretary of state's representative in maritime salvage and intervention, said that there would be no repeat of the scenes when thousands of people were scavenging the contents of washed-up containers.

He said containers were still coming off the ship in bad weather, but that that they hoped to stop this from happening soon.

Photo: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire
Many of the BMW bikes recovered from beaches have been reported

Mr Middleton said: "There's a team of naval architects crunching figures to try and work out what state we have to get it into before we can refloat it.

"It will be a case of trying to work out the best methodology, whether we cut her in two or whether we refloat her as she is. But she will be removed."

The Napoli was grounded after it was feared she would go down while being towed to Portland, Dorset, having suffered damage in a storm during which her 26 crew were rescued.

The vessel, which was carrying 2,300 containers, was then deliberately grounded near Lyme Bay - a World Heritage Site - on 20 January to prevent it from breaking up.


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