Clean-up begins after Maersk loses shipping containers in North Sea

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Debris has washed up on beaches along Denmark’s North Sea shoreline after a Maersk container ship lost boxes overboard during Storm Pia, just before Christmas. 

Maersk confirmed it became aware of the incident on 22 December, and is still investigating.

Authorities have issued a warning to ships about the containers and debris likely floating in the North Sea. Police have cautioned residents against handling anything that washes ashore.

The Maersk vessel departed Bremerhaven, Germany on 21 December, and encountered rough conditions from Storm Pia

According to local reports, at least four containers have washed ashore. A possible 42 of the missing 46 remain in the North Sea.

Pictures in the Danish media show refrigerators, shoes, other consumer goods and medical items including needles washed up on beaches. The material appears to be scattered across nearly 10 miles of coastline.

Maersk confirms that at least 40 containers are believed to have been lost overboard from the vessel. Built in 2014, the Danish-flagged ship is 399 meters in length, making it one of the largest capacity vessels in the Maersk fleet.

Maersk said the vessel is due to reach Gdansk, Poland on December 24, where the company will begin a full inspection in daylight. Unconfirmed reports suggest that there might be further damaged containers aboard the vessel.

Maersk told the local TV station in a statement that they had hired a company to locate the boxes that were lost overboard. They said no crew was injured during the incident and that the vessel is currently operating without disruption.