Yoga mats, poker tables set adrift after rough seas knock 109 containers off ship

The ship ran into trouble when waves estimated at 15 feet caused the ship to list as it was off the coast of Washington.

VICTORIA, B.C. -- A container ship struck by rough seas off the Washington coast during last week's Bomb Cyclone lost nearly three times as many shipping containers as previously thought. 

The M/V Zim Kingston first ran into trouble Friday afternoon when waves estimated at 15 feet caused the ship to list as it was about 43 miles off the coast of Neah Bay, Washington, on its way to Canada.


Initially, the Coast Guard was told 40 containers were swept overboard during the event, and a Coast Guard helicopter spotted 35 of them floating in the waters hours later.  Once the ship reached Victoria, B.C., several remaining containers caught fire, including some carrying hazardous chemicals.  Sixteen of the ship's 21 crew members were evacuated, and it took two days to bring the fire under control. No one was injured.

Late Tuesday, Coast Guard officials learned from the shipping company that there had been 2,000 containers on board, of which at least 109 were now missing; not the 40 estimated initially swept overboard by the Coast Guard crew first on the scene.

Two of the containers were known to be carrying hazardous material, according to the Coast Guard, but the specifics were not given. The others were carrying such items as Christmas decorations, sofas, poker tables, metal car parts, clothing, toys, yoga mats, stand-up paddle boards, "and other things that Canadians use and enjoy every day," Coast Guard officials said.

Helicopters continue to scour the Vancouver Island coastline in search of the lost containers, monitoring some floating near Cape Scott on the north end of the island. Four containers have washed ashore; one containing refrigerators had broken open.  None of the four located have hazardous materials. 

But poor weather and seas of 30-36 feet continue to hamper the search. They expect that some containers have sunk.

The Coast Guard says if any members of the public find a container on shore, don't open it but call 1-800-889-8852 immediately.

Meanwhile, the owners of ship are working with salvage companies and the Canadian government to locate, retrieve and clean up the wayward containers.