A bulk carrier has run aground and appears to be breaking up along the east coast of South Africa near Richards Bay.

The 151,000 dwt bulk carrier MV Smart ran aground on a sandbar Monday in 10 meter swells after departing Port Richards Bay. The vessel had finished loading coal at the Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) earlier Monday.

Photos of the grounded ship show the hull has suffered structural failure at around amidships and is severely sagging.

The National Sea Rescue Institute was alerted of the grounding at about 1:30 p.m. local time. At approximately 4 p.m., the structural integrity of the ship was compromised and the captain gave the order to abandon ship, NSRI said in a statement.

All 23 crew members have been rescued by NSRI helicopter crews.

A source has told us that the vessel started to break in half and at this point may be in two pieces.

SAMSA (South African Maritime safety Authority) are en route to investigate and begin evaluations for salvage, the NSRI statement said.

A local news report said that the vessel was no longer under pilotage and may have experienced engine failure.

The incident comes just as the bulk carrier Kiani Satu was pulled free from a South African beach this weekend, but is believed to be in danger of sinking in deep water.