10 Jan 2012

Broken ship leaks oil at Christmas Island

6:57 am on 10 January 2012

A phosphate ship at Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean, has split in two and is leaking oil after breaking its moorings in rough seas.

The Panamanian-registered MV Tycoon was loading phosphate when it was pushed against the sea wall by a heavy swell at Flying Fish Cove on the island, north-west of Australia.

Weather conditions worsened and caused the ship, which was carrying 100 tonnes of phosphate and 100 tonnes of fuel, to break in half, the ABC reports.

Fifteen crew were taken off the ship by the Australian Navy with two of them taken to hospital with minor injuries.

A spokesman from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority says it is not clear how much damage has been done.

A member of the island's Volunteer Marine Rescue, Scott Fisher, says some heavy oil is on the beach and in the water.

The leaking oil is being dissipated by strong winds and the island's administrator, Brian Lacy, says he has received advice that the fuel will float on top of the water rather than sinking, so should not cause any real issues for the marine life.