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The Rena, grounded on the Astrolabe Reef, lists perilously as other boats assist in salvage operations.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Alan Gibson / New Zealand Herald

An oil slick spreads from the Liberian-flagged cargo ship Rena, grounded on a reef off the coast of New Zealand.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ian Gavan / Getty Images

A huge crack in the hull of the grounded cargo vessel Rena is allowing heavy fuel oil to escape.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jean Francois Fournier / Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation

Thick oil from the Rena coats Papamoa Beach. Officials are calling this the worst maritime environmental disaster in New Zealand's history.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mike Hewitt / Getty Images

One of the estimated 1,300 seabirds killed so far by the Rena oil slick lies on Papamoa Beach.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Bradley Ambrose / AFP

Soldiers attempt to clean the Bay of Plenty coastline, but more heavy fuel oil spilled from the stricken cargo ship Rena was on the way.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mike Hewitt / Getty Images

A shipping container, split apart and washed ashore, lies on Mount Maunganui Beach amid a pile of debris.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Natacha Pisarenko / Associated Press

Sgt. Karl Borck surveys the scene from a New Zealand air force helicopter as it circles the grounded cargo vessel Rena.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: New Zealand Defence Force / Getty Images

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Stricken cargo ship off New Zealand coast spills oil, could sink

A stricken cargo ship threatened to break apart and become dislodged from the reef it rammed this month off the coast of New Zealand in what is already New Zealand’s worst environmental sea accident.

Salvage crews rushed to pump more oil from the ailing Liberia-flagged Rena, which ran aground Oct. 5 on a reef 14 miles offshore, spilling tons of heavy oil that has washed up on pristine beaches near the town of Tauranga on New Zealand’s North Island. In addition to rough seas that have hampered the salvage effort, bad weather was predicted later Monday.

Read the full story on World Now.

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