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27,000 Pink Plastic Detergent Bottles Wash Up on UK Beach

Many plastic bottles are washing up on Poldhu Beach in Cornwall, UK this week, making the waves literally pink.

It appears that a whopping 27,000 of these bright pink bottles—believed to be Vanish brand detergent—have washed ashore, prompting wildlife warnings in the area due to the potentially toxic contents of the bottles, according to UK-based ocean advocacy group Surfers Against Sewage.

MailOnline reported that the bright pink bottles have been "strewn across bubbly sand as far as the eye can see" and even more bottles are expected to wash up in the coming days, the National Trust (who owns the beach) said.

Many of the bottles are full but some have leaked, a Cornwall council spokeswoman said. As you can see in the photos, the soapy content in the bottles have coated the shoreline with foam.

Conservationists told the BBC that nearby coves including Gunwalloe, Polurrian, Church Cove and Marazion have also been affected.

Although many people volunteered to pick up the plastic litter, they have also been warned to stay away.

"In the meantime the public are advised to keep children and dogs at a safe distance from the bottles should any more be washed up," a Cornwall council spokeswoman said. "No attempt should be made to recover the bottles."

In a blog post, Surfers Against Sewage warned about the harmful contents of the bottles:

"WARNING: These bottles are thought to contain hazardous and toxic chemicals, only handle with extreme care or report bottles to Cornwall Council and SAS to be removed by experts. Please remember, the contents are most likely toxic and if you decide to remove them, please take precautions (wearing gloves and store in an appropriate container)."

The area is currently being monitored by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Natural England. A wildlife warning has been issued for the area as the contents of the soap could be harmful to natural life, MailOnline reported.

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Cornwall Wildlife Trust told the BBC it was "highly concerned" about the impact on "sensitive marine life."

"The main worry is all that detergent going into our beautiful marine environment, but thankfully most are full," Justin Whitehouse, from the National Trust, told the BBC.

Surfers Against Sewage said in a blog post that the bottles originated from a shipping vessel, which reportedly lost "a number of containers" near Land's End in May last year.

The group adds that recent winter storms have purportedly caused the bottles to redistribute around the area:

"Our friends at Lizard National Trust were the first to spot these bottles on their beaches and believe they are from the container ship, DS Blue Ocean, that lost a number of containers overboard near Lands End in May 2015. 27 tonnes of Vanish detergent were in one of these containers. These containers will have been lying on the sea floor since May, disturbed and reanimated by the recent winter storms that are now distributing them onto ever beach, cove and rock pool the tides, winds and swell can reach."

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said (via the BBC) that "while it is fact that the MV Blue Ocean lost a container containing bottles of 'Vanish,' there is no currently available evidence that the bottles washed up on the Cornish coast are from this container; all evidence is currently circumstantial."

A Vanish spokesman told MailOnline they are unsure if the bottles are theirs, but that it "looks that way."

"We're working closely to get samples back. It's a concern and we're working with the authorities while we investigate if they're our bottles," he added.

"Let's get started on making these 27,000 pink plastic bottles 'Vanish' from or beaches."
Photo credit: Surfers Against Sewage

Cleanup efforts are underway. Watch this video from The Guardian for more:

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"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

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At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.