60 penguins die after oil spill on Uruguay coast

June 9th, 2008 - 5:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Montevideo(Uruguay), June 9 (IANS) More than 60 penguins have died along the Uruguayan coast after two cargo ships collided in the Rio de la Plata estuary and spilled fuel oil, Spains’ EFE news agency reported Monday. Some 20 of the aquatic flightless birds with heavy layers of oil on their bodies are receiving veterinary care.

The penguins are currently making their yearly migration from southern Argentine waters to the warmer climes along the Brazilian coast.

Last Tuesday, the Greek-flagged cargo vessel Syros collided with the Maltese ship Sea Bird about 30 km off the Uruguayan coast and some 14,000 litres of fuel oil spilled into the Rio de la Plata estuary.

“The fuel not only affected the penguins, but it will also create problems and loss of life among other marine species,” an official said.

“The slick is presently located some 40 km from the Uruguayan coast and has begun to dilute and degrade naturally,” said the navy’s chief of public relations, Lt. Commander Marcelo Larrobla. The Uruguayan navy is conducting patrols to monitor the oil slick.

Uruguay has launched an investigation to determine the responsibility in the accident and said it may impose legal sanctions and/or fines on those found at fault.

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