Half of wrecked cargo ship sinking in New Zealand

By the Associated Press | January 9, 2012 | 4:41 PM EST

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — One half of a cargo ship that ran aground on a New Zealand reef three months ago is sinking into the ocean.

Maritime New Zealand, which oversees shipping, issued a news bulletin Tuesday morning saying that the stern section of the vessel Rena is slipping from the Astrolabe reef and sinking.

The 774-foot (236-meter) vessel split in two over the weekend amid heavy seas. It has been battered on the reef near the North Island port of Tauranga since it ran aground Oct. 5.

About 150 cargo containers have spilled into the sea since the weekend, with hundreds more aboard. The Rena earlier spilled about 400 tons of fuel oil, fouling pristine beaches and killing thousands of seabirds in what has been labeled the country's worst maritime environmental disaster.