Hundreds of empty containers create shipping hazard after ship sinks near Taiwan’s largest port

An estimated 600 shipping containers are adrift off Taiwan’s southern coast after a container ship sank near the Port of Kaohsiung yesterday, July 21.

The Palau-registered ANGEL sank early Friday morning after the crew were evacuated from the ship as it began listing dangerously after a suspected breach of the hull Thursday. An estimated 500-600 of the more than 1,300 empty containers aboard the ship remained afloat after the vessel sank around 2.8 nautical miles from the south embankment of the Port of Kaohsiung.

Both entrances to Taiwan’s largest port, which processes more than 10 million 20-foot containers per year, remain open, as the containers drifted south between the coast of Pingtung County and Xiaoliuqiu Island.

Ten salvage vessels were dispatched to pick up containers yesterday, but as of 10:00pm last night only 23 containers had been picked up. By noon today the number of salvaged containers had increased to 34.

containers adrift off the coast of southern Taiwan

Divers are inspecting the sunken ship and making efforts to seek any potential leaks as preparations are made to remove the approximately 500 tons of oil on board, including 393 metric tons of heavy fuel oil, 98 metric tons of diesel, and 0.3 metric tons of lubricating oil. According to reports, the crew closed oil valves before the ship sank and no oil leaks have been detected so far.

While sea and weather conditions are currently ideal for salvage operations, Taiwan’s maritime and port authorities are urging haste as Tropical Storm Doksuri is on a path forecast to make landfall in Taiwan later this week.

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