The cargo ship Rena has split in half after seas of up to 6m battered the vessel overnight.
According to Maritime New Zealand, the split has left a 20-30m gap between the two halves of the stricken ship.
The forward section of the ship is in its original position on the reef, with the stern section broken away and moving significantly, but still on the reef.
The separated aft section has moved clockwise (to the starboard direction) about 13 degrees.
Maritime New Zealand says there has been a significant discharge of containers and container debris from the ship which may result in the 3nm exclusion zone being extended.
MNZ Salvage Unit Manager David Billington said the fresh damage to the ship has resulted in the loss of a large number of containers and debris.
“While the two sections of the Rena currently remain on the reef, there’s no question the ship is badly damaged with the severe movement breaking off many of the hatch covers and releasing containers from the holds. Salvors are now working to assess the state of the vessel so that naval architects can undertake further calculations get gain a clearer picture of its ongoing stability.”
At least 23 containers have been confirmed as being lost from the ship, which were floating or partly submerged.
Another 7 containers are thought to be in the water, although are likely to be lost.
Tugs from container recovery company Bramear Howells currently has tugs en route to tag containers with bouys as it is currently too rough to tow or safely recover them.
National On Scene Commander Alex van Wijngaarden says that although there is no sign at this stage that there has been any significant release of oil the National response Team has been mobilised which includes trained oil spill response and wildflife experts.
Weather conditions continue to be poor, with severe weather expected to continue for the next 3-4 days.
The storm is part of another bout of bad weather battering the country as heavy rain and strong winds are expected to hit the upper North Island today.
The Metservice has issued a weather warning for the Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty east of Kawerau, and from Gisborne to Hawkes Bay.