Wildlife under threat as ship leaks oil        

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The Independent Online

A ship that ran aground off a protected wetland in South Africa began leaking oil yesterday and was in danger of breaking up.

A ship that ran aground off a protected wetland in South Africa began leaking oil yesterday and was in danger of breaking up.

The Italian ship, the Jolly Rubino, was abandoned by its crew on Tuesday night after an engine fire got out of control. The vessel, which was carrying hazardous chemicals, was blown aground 300 yards off Cape St Lucia, about 370 miles east of Johannesburg.

A strip of oil 10 yards wide was spotted leaking from the ship yesterday afternoon, according to salvagers trying to rescue the vessel.

The 30,000-ton ship is trapped in the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, a World Heritage site. A serious oil slick could pollute the nearby Umfolozi river and the sensitive estuary, which is blocked by sand, a park spokesman said.

It could also damage mangroves, crocodiles and hippos. The spokesman said the ship was cracked and might be on the verge of breaking up.

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