In what has turned out to be New Zealand's largest environmental disaster ever, a grounded cargo ship split into two Saturday afternoon, raising fears of a fresh oil spill.


According to the Associated Press, stormy weather caused the Greek-owned Rena to separate and resulted in 300 of the ship's 880 containers being lost.

The problems with the Rena occurred when it ran aground Astrolabe Reef in October. Oil has been seen leaking from the ship, which has killed 20,000 seabirds and contaminated local beaches.

Officials say inclement weather would continue for several more days, increasing the debris and oil from the ship. The Rena's captain and navigating officer face several criminal charges, including polluting the environment and operating a ship in a dangerous manner.

WATCH: Video from the Associated Press, which was published on January 7, 2012.