PART of a container from a Maersk ship which lost some of its cargo has been recovered following a search of Lyme Bay.

A coastguard surveillance aircraft carried out a search today after reports of a container in the sea.

Containers were lost from a ship as it crossed the Bay of Biscay in stormy conditions last month.

Most are believed empty and have sunk at sea. Cigarettes and other items that were being transported have washed up on beaches in Dorset.

A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “Part of a container has been recovered today 30 nautical miles south of Sidmouth in East Devon.

“There are no contents in the container, which is safely under tow by a tug.

“The MCA surveillance aircraft has been carrying out an extensive search today in UK waters. There have been no further sightings of any containers.

“Ships passing through the English Channel have been warned and asked to report any sightings.”