Russia launched a review of shipping safety after a severe storm broke an oil tanker and released thousands of tonnes of fuel into the Black Sea. A once-in-a-century storm on Sunday sank five ships, including the oil tanker, crippled several others and triggered what the Russian prime minister called an “ecological catastrophe”.
Workers with shovels and rakes were scraping up a thick layer of black sludge that washed ashore from the tanker. Some birds, their feathers caked with oil and unable to see, blundered onto a nearby road and were crushed under vehicles. Hundreds of soldiers have now been sent to the affected region to help the effort to clean up clogged beaches.
After inspecting the scene, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov, said it would take another week to assess the full scale of the damage. He also added that the narrow Kerch Strait had seen the “biggest mass sinking of ships in the history of modern Russia.”
But authorities say the disaster cannot only be blamed on climatic conditions amid reports some ships ignored a storm warning at the weekend and put out to sea.
Meanwhile, a new storm on Tuesday grounded helicopters, dimming hopes of rescuing
five missing sailors.