25th May 2012 9:00am | By Laura Chubb
Two officers of the Rena tanker ship that ran aground off New Zealand have been jailed.
The MV Rena hit a reef off the North Island in October 2011, causing devastating pollution as hundreds of tonnes of oil leaked from the stricken ship.
The oil polluted beaches and killed wildlife as it spread from where the tanker ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef.
Captain Mauro Balomaga and navigation officer Leonil Relon, both from the Philippines, have been jailed for seven months each.
The officers had pleaded guilty to mishandling the vessel and altering ship documents.
Prosecutors argued that the crew had deviated from the approved course and ignored basic navigation practices as they rushed to Tauranga port to meet their deadline.
The New Zealand government has estimated the cost of the clean-up at NZ$130m (£68m).
Maritime New Zealand director Keith Manch said: "This grounding has had significant consequences for the Bay of Plenty community and the country as a whole.
"Today marks a milestone in the response, which is still under way."