Winds and waves widened South Korea’s worst oil spill ever along its pristine southern coast Wednesday, suffocating tens of thousands of fish, wiping out residents’ livelihoods and threatening tourists and resort operators in nearby islands.
About 120 vessels and two helicopters were fighting to contain the slick, caused when the Sea Prince, a Cyprus-registered tanker, began leaking an estimated 700 tons of fuel oil after running aground in a fierce typhoon Sunday.
Korean maritime police said the leak itself had been stopped and that none of the tanker’s 83,000 tons of crude oil - which causes more damage than fuel - had escaped from cargo tanks. The typhoon hit the tanker just as workers had unloaded about two-thirds of its cargo of Saudi crude and were trying to move it to a safer port. All but one of the 20 crew members escaped to an island; the chief engineer is missing and presumed dead.