Black Sea spill kills 30,000 birds

11:40, 13 November 2007
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Birds weighed down by thick coatings of oil seat helplessly in the sand

Long stretches of Ukrainian and Russian Black Sea coasts face an ecological catastrophe, local authorities said yesterday, with more than 30,000 birds and countless fish already killed by oil from a tanker that shipwrecked Sunday, according to Reuters.

The human toll from the fierce storm that wrecked five ships in the narrow Kerch Strait between the Black Sea and Azov Sea also rose as the bodies of three sailors, still in life jackets, were found near an island in the Black Sea`s northeastern end.

Fears were growing over the fate of as many as 20 other mariners still missing in Russian waters, near the border with Ukraine.

Yesterday, a thick black sludge coated swaths of sandy coastline, some of the estimated 1,300 to 2,000 tonnes of fuel spilled from the Volgoneft-139 after huge waves snapped the Russian tanker in two.

The Kerch Strait is an important migration route for birds and also home to the Black Sea porpoise.

Birds weighed down by thick coatings of oil hopped weakly along the shore or sat helplessly in the sand. Workers with pitchforks and shovels started the back-breaking work of collecting big clumps of oil mixed with sand and seaweed.

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