Netherlands warns of toxic chemicals after containers tossed from cargo ship

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A bag containing risky powder washed up on a small Dutch island on Thursday, a day after some 270 containers tumbled from one of the world's biggest cargo ships in rough weather, as authorities scramble to clean debris-strewn beaches.

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.

Dutch authorities are warning the public to stay away, as some containers carried closed-off barrels of an organic peroxide, a flammable and highly toxic chemical.

The Panama-registered MSC Zoe shed the containers, containing mostly toys, IKEA furniture and auto parts while battling a storm off the Wadden Islands, an archipelago off the northwestern Dutch coast. A bag of the substance washed ashore on a Dutch island. Shed items included a 25kg bag of risky organic peroxide powder on Schiermonnikoog island.

He told AFP the bag had come from one of three containers transporting organic peroxide that had been on board the MSC Zoe.

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But the authorities have warned volunteers and locals not to touch any bags but to call police or the fire brigade.

Among the goods washed up on the shore were flat-screen televisions, brought ashore with the polystyrene material they had been packed in. "How are we going to clean this up?" an environmentalist on Schiermonnikoog, Cynthia Borras, said.

The company is using specialized ships with sonar equipment to search for the containers missing at sea.

In the meantime, MSC is analysing the causes of the incident.

The 2015-built MSC Zoe, which was headed to the northern German port of Bremerhaven, is one of the world's largest container vessels at 1,300 feet long and 194ft wide.

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