Cargo spill sparks sandy free-for-all on Dutch beach

Nederland the Netherlands Coastguard shows the container vessel MSC ZOE after the storm

Nederland the Netherlands Coastguard shows the container vessel MSC ZOE after the storm

The container ship - identified by officials as the MSC Zoe - is suspected to have lost cargo during an overnight storm off the coastal border between Germany and the Netherlands.

Germany's Central Command for Maritime Emergencies said authorities have established that three missing containers at most contained a unsafe substance, but none of them has been found yet.

Officials were anxious about three containers carrying toxic substances, including one with bags of peroxide powder, one of which washed ashore on the island of Schiermonnikoog.

Three holding hazardous materials have yet to be found.

The Panama-registered MSC Zoe, which was mostly carrying toys, furniture and auto parts, lost the containers late on Tuesday while battling a storm off the Frisian Islands, an archipelago off the northwestern Dutch coast also known as the Wadden Islands.

Defence Ministry spokesman Sjaak Van Elten said: "The expectation is the more things may wash up on beaches tonight".

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Dutch soldiers cleaned the mess and emergency services warned volunteers to not touch the containers.

German authorities said that most of the containers located so far were in Dutch waters.

On the tiny island of Ameland "130,000 kg of debris has already been collected from eight km (5 miles) of beach", the authorities said in a tweet.

Dutch media reported that local treasure hunters had found an array of items from containers whose contents had spilled, including light bulbs, vehicle parts, Ikea furniture, clothing and toys. The vessel was near the German island of Borkum at the time, and the tide carried some of the containers toward the southwest, the BBC reported.

A Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) statement said the containers were lost overboard during "heavy weather", and a salvage company had been hired to assist in the clean-up and search for missing items.

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