Estonian oil spill kills 5,000 birds

Thursday, February 2, 2006

An oil spill in north-west Estonia has, according to scientists in the country, killed an estimated 5,000 birds across the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The oil spill, which occurred on January 31, killed 2,000 birds just off the coasts of the nearby Vormsi and Osmussaar islands. Finnish authorities have also reported that birds in the Nordic countries have also been affected.

The oil spill occurred on the coast of the northern Harjumaa region of Estonia, and has been credited to a Liberian tanker heading toward Singapore. By the end of the first 24 hours following the spill, authorities had already picked up 400 dead birds, killed by contact with the oil.

The coasts of Estonia have historically been a Winter flocking place for birds from across North and Central Europe, due to the suitable climate for many species. The spill could endanger numbers, especially if the death toll continues to increase in the next few days.