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A huge oil slick measuring over 74,000 square kilometres, is expected to spill onto the fragile US Gulf Coast shoreline this weekend. If that happens the area’s teeming wildlife will be in danger.

Around 1,000 barrels of oil a day are gushing from a leaking underwater well after last week’s explosion on board an offshore drilling rig.

The US Coast Guard has been scrambled to try to keep the oil away but a shift in wind direction is pushing the spill towards land.

At risk is a rich breeding ground for shrimp, crabs and fish as well as an endangered species of sea turtle. Wildlife experts say they are seriously concerned about the devastation the oil will wreak.

Eleven people are missing and presumed dead after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank last Tuesday.

Crews using robotic submarines have so far been unable to activate a shutoff device to close the leaking well.

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