Cargo of cigarettes washes up on Devon beach

The Maersk Svendborg lost over 500 containers after being battered by huge waves and 60-knot winds in the Bay of Biscay, about 75 miles south-west of Land’s End.

Maersk, the owners of the 1138ft (347m) vessel, confirmed that 520 containers were lost but that most, around 85%, were empty. The full extent of the damage wasn’t realised until the ship docked in Malaga, southern Spain, last week.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency confirmed that the majority of the containers had sunk in French waters. The agency’s aerial surveillance aircraft have been searching for the remaining containers, which can float just below the surface.

Three containers have been spotted, one washed ashore in Devon and two mid Channel. The MCA is working with Maersk to ensure the containers are recovered.

The container which washed up in Devon was full of cigarettes and police had to close the area after the MCA released a statement reminding people that all such items are private property and if found must be reported. Not doing so is a criminal offence.