Rena oil disaster: latest updates:
The captain of the stricken cargo ship Rena is facing charges. A second officer is also facing charges under the Maritime Act...

Rena disaster: what you need to know:

* Fallen shipping containers from the stricken ship Rena begun washing up on Mt Maunganui beach overnight and this morning

* Maritime New Zealand has closed Mount Maunganui Beach until the contents and hazardous nature of at least four containers can be determined

* A second officer charged over his role in the Rena disaster has appeared in Tauranga District Court this morning

* Clean up crews have collected 55 tonnes of solid waste and five tonnes of liquid waste from 17 kilometres of shoreline

* Bay of Plenty residents living near beaches have been warned to keep their windows shut. Latest public health information available here

* Environmental response teams have recovered 200 dead birds and are asking the public to report any further dead birds to authorities

A number of containers floating in the water around the ship last night appeared to contain freeze dried coffee and beef, as well as deer skins and burger patties, the New Zealand Herald reports.

So far the container ship has leaked at least 380 tonnes of fuel oil into the sea.

It's been reported that 88 containers have fallen into the sea.

A large crack running around the ship's hull was spotted yesterday which is slowly widening in heavy seas.
Officials have said it's only a matter of time before the vessel splits in two.

The ship reportedly settled onto the Astrolabe Reef overnight, but was expected to begin moving with the next high tide at 9am.

More charges are likely to be laid against the captain, whose identity has been suppressed because of fears of a public backlash.

A second officer, who was in charge of the watch when the ship ran into the reef, has appeared in court charged with operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk.

The charge carries a maximum fine of $10,000 or a maximum jail term of 12 months.

He has been remanded on bail until October 19 and is on the same bail conditions as the captain of the ship — he has surrendered his passport and must not associate with the captain.

The Rena's captain appeared in Tauranga District Court on the same charge yesterday and was remanded until next Wednesday.

It is still unconfirmed whether alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Police have urged people not to interfere with any shipping containers that may wash ashore from the Rena.

"We are asking members of the public to call 0800 OIL SPILL to notify authorities of the location of any containers so that they can be assessed by police and fire service and recovered by the appropriate people," Inspector Karl Wright-St Clair said.

"The containers remain the property of the original owners or insurers.

"People should not attempt to open any of the containers, as some of them may contain hazardous material.

"It is an offence to attempt to open or retrieve any of the containers and anyone found attempting to interfere with the containers will be dealt with by police.

This report is probably out of date by now.