THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A salvage operation to lift scores of shipping containers from the seabed off the northwestern coast of the Netherlands has begun more than two weeks after they tumbled off a cargo vessel in a storm.

Security Region Friesland, the local authority that is coordinating the operation, says on its website that the operation got underway Friday after repeated postponements because of bad weather.

The MSC Zoe lost 291 containers early this month as it sailed from Portugal to the German port of Bremerhaven. Some of them burst open, scattering their contents along nearby beaches.

Two ships are being used to lift sunken containers to the surface. The Dutch water authority says fishing vessels are standing by near the operation to scoop up any cargo that spills out of open containers.