THE fishing trawler that ran aground yesterday at Duranbah Beach has started to break up and threatens to spill oil and diesel into the water.
The incident began unfolding about 5pm (NSW) yesterday when the trawler, called Toni Kylie, from Coffs Harbour tried to cross the Tweed River bar.
Marine Rescue Point Danger commander Bernie Gabriel said the skipper seemed to lose control of the 54-foot timber vessel and it turned "broadside" to the waves.
"We watched it as it cleared the bar and went into a northerly direction," Mr Gabriel said.
"It went broadside to the sea and that rolled her over."
Mr Gabriel said the crew was safe.
Tweed Police said the two men were lucky to escape the trawler.
Police arrived to find two crewmen, aged 29 and 33, still on board but with the boat smashing against the rock wall.
The men jumped into the water and were assisted to shore by surfers.
The younger man was taken to Tweed Hospital with chest and shoulder injuries.
Mr Gabriel said strong swell was starting to break up the trawler at about 11pm (NSW) last night.
"There is massive gear under water and it was just getting hammered," he said.
"There is no chance of salvaging and bits and pieces will start floating up on shore and out to sea later today."
"The bar is notorious for swallowing up things.
"The constant movement takes stuff down into the sand."
The immediate concern for authorities is spills from the stricken vessel.
"It has already lost a bit of diesel. You can smell it when you are near the wreck."