The South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) has launched an investigation into the loss of more than a dozen cargo containers that reportedly fell off a container ship some 22 nautical miles off the coast of Durban a week ago.
Samsa on Monday issued an urgent alert warning to vessels sailing on the Indian Ocean east of South Africa to be on the lookout for cargo containers at sea.
Authorities said 13 containers were reportedly lost overboard by the MSC CHLOE at about 11.30pm last Tuesday night while it was sailing the Indian Ocean between Port Elizabeth and Durban in 550 metres of water depth.
"The vessel was on a voyage from Coega (Ngqurha port in Port Elizabeth) to Durban. Reportedly the vessel was drifting and awaiting berthing instructions when a huge swell struck and caused the vessel to roll about +/- 30 degrees on either side, thereby leading to the containers falling off their stacked position," Samsa said in a statement.
Samsa said the vessel's owners, MSC, had confirmed the contents of the containers as general cargo ranging from cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, machinery shafts and agricultural supplies, and that none had any dangerous cargo or marine pollutants.