Race to avoid Great Barrier Reef disaster

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Race to avoid Great Barrier Reef disaster

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Australian authorities say they are preparing for the worst as they deal with a grounded ship leaking oil onto the renowned Great Barrier Reef.

There are warnings of a possible environmental disaster if the ship breaks up.

Although only a small amount of almost a thousand tonnes of fuel onboard the Chinese coal ship has so far leaked, efforts to stabilise the vessel are proving difficult.

Patrick Quirk from Maritime Safety Queensland said: “The vessel is still rubbing on the reef. It’s dancing across the reef. It’s crabbing across. It’s crabbed across 20-30 metres. As it does that, it’s obviously doing more damage to itself.”

Environmentalists are calling for tighter controls on ships in the area, and the compulsory use of local navigators.

Green Party leader Bob Brown said: “There ought to have been a pilot aboard and the state and commonwealth authorities have been under pressure to put pilots aboard for two decades but have failed to do so.”

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef and is listed as a World Heritage site.

Australian politicians are calling for tough legal action against the owners of the stranded ship.