Australia arrests crew of China Barrier Reef ship

Australian officials have arrested the captain and chief officer of a Chinese coal ship which ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef.

The 47-year-old captain has been charged with liability for damage while his colleague, 44, is accused of being on watch when the Shen Neng 1 grounded.

Officials say the ship leaked tonnes of oil and caused extensive damaged to the fragile coral of the marine reserve.

Traces of oil are reported to have been found in a nearby nature sanctuary.

The bulk carrier is believed to have been taking an illegal shortcut when it ran aground on 3 April on its way to the port of Gladstone in Queensland.

Its hull tore a gash more than 1km (0.6 mile) long in the reef and leaked oil into waters used as a breeding ground for seabirds and turtles.

Charges of damaging the marine sanctuary carry a penalty of up to three years in prison.