A huge oil spill from a grounded cargo ship threatens a coral atoll in the Solomon Islands, listed as a World Heritage site. UNESCO has expressed concern that the massive leak could ruin the environment.
Australia has sent experts to help the Solomons deal with the disaster. They say up to 75 tons of heavy oil have been released near Rennell Island since early February. That was when the Hong Kong-flagged ship ran aground. They say there is a high risk that hundreds of tons of oil still inside the ship could dump out into the area.
The ship’s owner says it was loaded with bauxite. It ran aground during an unexpected gale. The company has been criticized for acting slowly.
It apologized in a statement, and said the island’s remote location makes it difficult to manage the disaster. It says the shoreline is being cleaned up with advice from international experts.