The captain of the stricken vessel MV Rena has been arrested and charged overnight.
Transport Minister Steven Joyce said the captain was to appear in the Tauranga District Court this morning.
Mr Joyce said the captain would be charged under section 65 of the Maritime Act and that more charges were likely to follow.
Around 70 containers have fallen off the stricken container ship Rena, after it began tilting last night at a much more precarious angle. The ship was listing at 18 degrees.
The stricken container ship Rena was last night tilting on a more precarious angle, and coastal residents near it have been warned to prepare for “much worse” in what the Government now says is our worst environmental maritime disaster.
The ship was listing at 18deg – sparking a navigation warning about the possibility of falling and submerged containers – after being at 11deg for much of the past week.
The Rena started moving in 4m swells yesterday – forcing an emergency evacuation of the crew – and a Maritime NZ spokesman said last night the agency was becoming “increasingly concerned” about the ship’s lean.
It was revealed yesterday that maritime officials turned down an early offer to have two barges help remove oil from the ship.
Hundreds of tonnes of oil leaked from the hull yesterday and Bay of Plenty beaches are expected to become black today.