Brits swarm cargo-beach for BMWs and toxic waste

A distressed 62,000 ton freighter en route from Belgium to South Africa was tugged to a sandbar off the Cornish coast, spilling enough oil to form a five-mile slick, and dumping tons of its cargo, which ranges from valuable booty like BMW motorcycles to toxic waste. Local British scavengers have hit the coast, taking away everything they can:

Ignoring health warnings and threats of prosecution, hundreds of people foraged among containers washed from a stricken cargo vessel on the southern English coast on Monday, hauling off booty that included BMW motorcycles, shoes, diapers, beauty cream and carpets.

The scavengers descended on beaches at Branscombe after rescue tugs towed the 62,000-ton cargo vessel, the Napoli, to a sandbar just offshore to prevent it from breaking up at sea and spilling thousands of tons of oil and cargo. The cargo includes hazardous chemicals.

Television footage showed people inside shipping containers or carrying away items such as gearboxes, steering wheels and Bibles. Local people were seen using gurneys to carry away their haul. The police said 15 new BMW motorcycles were taken away, one of them by people using a small tractor as they raced against the tides to grab what they could.


(via Pure Pedantry)

(Thumbnail taken from a larger image credited to Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Update: Dubi sends in a Flickr photoset of the cargo-ship and its detritus.