Japanese authorities have been working to contain oil leaking into the sea after a cargo vessel that ran aground at a port in the north of the country broke apart early Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Panamanian-flagged freighter Crimson Polaris ran aground at the Port of Hachinohe in the Aomori Prefecture, located on the northern tip of Japan’s main island, Honshu.
The crew managed to free the 39,910-ton ship, which was transporting wood chips from Thailand, but couldn’t get far from the port due to the damage and weather conditions. The captain eventually made the decision to drop anchor around 4km (2.4 miles) off the coast.
The vessel remained there for hours, while a crack which appeared in the hull as a result of the incident kept growing. Early Thursday, the freighter split in two, prompting large amounts of oil to leak into the Sea of Japan.
The oil slick was around 5.1 km long and 1 km wide, but there were no signs it reached the shore, the Coast Guard said. Patrol boats have been working to contain the disaster, it added.
All 21 crew members, who were reportedly Chinese and Philippines citizens, have been safely evacuated from the distressed ship and taken to shore.