Page last updated at 18:36 GMT, Tuesday, 29 July 2008 19:36 UK

Napoli engine to be blasted apart

Napoli wreck
The ship's engine weighs about 1,400 tonnes

Underwater charges are to be used to blow up the MSC Napoli's engine after attempts to cut it up failed.

The container ship was grounded off the coast of Devon 18 months ago. This was followed by a 50m salvage operation as the wreckage was taken apart.

However the 1,400 tonne engine is stuck below the water line in the remaining stern section.

Salvage experts hope the explosions will break it into pieces, allowing divers to finish the job with cutters.

The Napoli's hull was damaged in a storm off the south coast of Cornwall on January 18 last year when she was en route from Antwerp to South Africa.

The storm-damaged vessel was grounded off the Devon resort of Branscombe amid fears she could break up and cause an environmental disaster in the Channel.

Napoli anchor
The anchor is displayed on Branscombe beach

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch later blamed the ship's "flawed" design.

The Napoli's crew of 26 abandoned ship when it ran aground, and were flown to safety.

In the ensuing salvage operation, about 50 containers washed up at Branscombe, which led to thousands of people trying to make off with anything they could carry, from disposable nappies to car parts and BMW motorcycles.

The ship's 13.5 tonne anchor has recently gone on display in the village to mark the dramatic events.

Salvors hope to fully remove the remains of the vessel from the sea by late autumn, marking the conclusion of an estimated 50m salvage operation.


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