Jail for 2 blamed for New Zealand cargo ship spill
Thursday, May 24, 2012
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- The captain and the navigating officer of a ship that ran aground on a New Zealand reef have each been sentenced to seven months in jail.
Authorities have described the Oct. 5 grounding of the cargo ship Rena as New Zealand's worst worst maritime environmental disaster. About 400 tons of fuel oil spilled on Astrolabe Reef near Tauranga and at least 2,000 sea birds died.
Capt. Mauro Balomaga and officer Leonil Relon, both of the Philippines, had earlier pleaded guilty to operating the ship dangerously and altering documents after the crash.
The New Zealand Herald reported the men appeared solemn when sentenced Friday at a court in Rotorua.
A preliminary report by transport investigators found the Rena took short cuts to try to reach port by a deadline.