Kerch Strait shipwreck damage mounts to $265 mln

14:50, 22 November 2007
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At least 2,000 metric tons of fuel spilled into the Kerch Strait

Damage caused by the Nov. 11 storm in the Kerch Strait which links the Black and Azov seas is estimated at 265 million U.S. dollars, Russia`s natural resources minister Yury Trutnev said citing the environmental regulator on Wednesday, according to Xinhua.

    The storm in the Kerch Strait killed at least six sailors, sank four ships and split an oil tanker.

    "The environmental damage caused by ships sinking in the Kerch Strait is estimated by the environmental watchdog agency Rosprirodnadzor at about 6.5 billion rubles (about 265 million U.S. dollars)," Trutnev said in a statement released by the ministry`s press service.

    A member of the WWF volunteer group said the number of birds killed by the oil spill in the Kerch Strait will keep growing.

    At least 2,000 metric tons of fuel spilled into the Kerch Strait killing several thousand birds, including many endangered species. Sulfur is currently reported to be leaking from one of the sunken ships.

    "Birds stained with fuel oil have virtually no chance of survival if no one helps them," Valentin Kozlitin, the chief veterinary doctor at the Moscow zoo, was quoted by the RIA Novostinews agency as saying following his return from the disaster area.

    Earlier reports said some 30,000 birds had died as a result of the oil slick but Kozlitin warned the number of dying birds will increase as their migration routes cross the disaster area.

    The consequences of oil spills in the Sea of Azov can last for about 10 to 15 years if no dam is built in the Kerch Strait to prevent the spread of oil, deputy head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources Oleg Mitvol warned last week.

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