It is being described by authorities as a “significant step forward”.
BP has succeeded in cutting through a ruptured oil pipe in the Gulf of Mexico, as part of new attempts to stop the US’s worst oil leak in history.
The company will now attempt to install a cap and begin funneling oil and gas to the surface. Large shears were brought in for the operation after efforts for a clean cut with a diamond saw failed.
As much as 19,000 barrels of oil a day has been gushing into the sea, devastating the ecology and economies of Gulf coast states.
Louisiana is the hardest hit, though the spill has fouled beaches in Mississippi and Alabama and now poses a threat to the Florida panhandle.
With the financial implications of the leak hitting BP hard, President Obama is due to make another visit to the area on Friday.