But for safety's safe don't watch, say Coastguard

There will be a 1,000m exclusion zone around the Napoli as specialist explosives officers detonate charges to split the boat in two.

Navigation warnings will be issued by the Coastguard and cliff paths are to be closed before the operation, which will separate the stricken container ship forward of the accommodation block.

The decision to break the Napoli up comes after it was refloated last week unsuccessfully. After six months on the seabed off Branscombe, Devon, the boat was found to have 3m cracks in the hull and was rebeached just north of where she was originally.

The boat hit the headlines in February when around 50 of her containers fell into the sea and floated ashore, prompting thousands of people to scour the beach for goods.

It is expected that some residual oils may be released when the ship parts. The contractors appointed by the ships owners are dealing with reports of oil coming ashore on beaches, the Coastguard says.

The MCA also expects there will be some oil left in the wreck and is working with other parties involved to minimise damage to the local environment.

Emma Webber, Superintendent (Operations) for the forces North and East Devon Basic Command Unit (BCU) said: “Public safety is of paramount importance to us and as some of the coastal paths are within the 1,000m exclusion zone from the vessel we will close them on Tuesday 17 July 2007 from midday until after the detonation has taken place.

“I ask that the public do not try to get to the cliff edge to see the ship as this will mean they put themselves into the danger area.
Parking remains very restricted in the village itself and motorists are asked not to try to get down to the beach. Traffic motorcyclists will be patrolling the area and will deal robustly with vehicles which are causing obstructions.

“I appreciate that the closures may cause some inconvenience to those people who may want to use the paths but we will lift any restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so.”