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New Zealand Stranded Ship: Oil Removed Successfully

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In this image released by New Zealand Maritime, a sea crane, foreground, is in place to begin removing some of the 1,280 containers that remain on board the cargo ship Rena, near Tauranga, New Zealand, Monday, Nov. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/New Zealand Maritime, Graeme Brown, HO) | AP

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Salvage crews have successfully removed all the remaining oil from a cargo ship that ran aground on a New Zealand reef, avoiding a worse environmental disaster.

The vessel Rena grounded on the Astrolabe reef near Tauranga on Oct. 5 and authorities feared the worst as about 385 tons of oil initially spilled into the ocean, fouling local beaches.

But in a stop-start effort, salvage crews began pumping oil in the days after the grounding while bad weather threatened to tear the ship apart.

On Monday, Maritime New Zealand announced it had finished pumping 1,454 tons of oil from the ship and was sending a sea crane to the vessel to begin removing some of the 1,280 containers that remain on board.

New Zealand's government is welcoming the news.

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