Ecological disaster in South Africa

An important nature reserve classified as world patrimony by UNESCO is threatened by a giant oil slick after an Italian petrol tanker ran aground 25 km. off the coast after catching fire last week. Part of the tanker’s 1,320 tonnes of diesel and crude have already reached the shore.

The 31-tonne, 190 m. long Jolly Rubino caught fire last Tuesday and after two days of unsuccessful attempts to put out the 300єC blaze, ran aground. A long crack has appeared in the hull and some of the oil has already started to spill out, having reached the coast.

The South African Ministry of Tourism and the Environment has erected barriers to contain the spill, which they hope will protect the Santa Lucia reserve, which is home to 115 species of birds and also hippopotamus and crocodiles.

Richard Sawers, responsible for the reserve, said that “We are worried about the fauna along the beach, the birds that nest along the banks of the Umfolozi River and the crocodiles. Our first objective is to get the fuel off the ship when the temperature provoked by the fire decreases”.


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