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sea containers fall into the sea in great numbers

Containers piled on giant ships carrying everything from car tires to smartphones are tipping at an alarming rate, sending millions of dollars worth of cargo to the bottom of the ocean as the drive to speed delivery increases the risk of safety mistakes.

The shipping industry is seeing the biggest spike in lost containers in seven years. More than 3,000 crates fell at sea last year, and more than 1,000 have already fallen overboard in 2021. Accidents disrupt supply chains for hundreds of U.S. retailers and manufacturers such as Amazon and Tesla.

There are many reasons for the sudden increase in accidents. The weather is becoming more unpredictable, and ships are getting bigger, allowing containers to be stacked higher than ever before. But making matters even worse is the surge in e-commerce after consumer demand exploded during the pandemic, increasing the need for shipping lines to deliver goods as fast as possible.

"The increase in container traffic means these very large container ships are much closer to full load than in the past," says Clive Reed, founder of Reed Marine Maritime Casualty Management Consultancy. "There is commercial pressure on ships to arrive on time and therefore make more voyages."

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