Oil slick threatens Thai resort island

Thai navy personnel are struggling to clean up a 200,000-litre oil slick that threatens to pollute a popular island beach resort in eastern Thailand.

Thai navy personnel are struggling to clean up a 200,000-litre oil slick that threatens to pollute a popular island beach resort in eastern Thailand.

The oil leaked from a Panamanian-registered tanker, the Eastern Fortitude, which hit rocks last Tuesday in the Gulf of Thailand, off the coast of Chon Buri province.

Officials say it will take at least 10 more days to clean up the slick, which is 60 metres wide and about four kilometres long.

The slick has passed through an area of more than 25 miles, moving east to Rayong province, he said.

Oil swept ashore at Mae Rampung tourist beach in Rayong early Tuesday, and the slick was now only 9 miles from Koh Samet, a resort island close to the coast.

A combined task force of about 100 people from the Thai Navy, the Harbour Department and local volunteers were using chemicals to disperse the oil at sea and were scraping contaminated sands where the slick had reached the shore.

The Habour Department has ordered the ship - which remains where it hit rocks off Chon Buri province - impounded and has filed a complaint to police as the first step in taking legal action against the tanker's owners.

The Eastern Fortitude was insured with Britannia in London, which has agreed to pay compensation for the damage caused by the oil spill, including the cost of clean-up and for pollution of the environment.

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