Israel closes beaches after oil spill, authorities speak of huge ecological disaster

Israel has closed all the beaches on the Mediterranean for an indefinite period. On hundreds of miles of beach, tons of tar have washed ashore. The authorities speak of one of the worst environmental disasters that the country has experienced.

The Israeli government says that a large oil spill in an unknown place at sea is the cause of the pollution. On Wednesday, the pollution was first noticed. Afterwards, environmentalists found black tar on the beaches.

Several animals would have died from contact with tar. Several birds and sea turtles have been found covered with the black sticky fabric. According to researchers from the Ministry of Agriculture, a dead whale has died because the animal has received tar.

Inhaled poisonous vapors

The Ministry of Environmental Protection says in the newspaper Haaretz that the most obvious scenario is that a tanker has lost oil. Israel is trying to trace the ship responsible for the pollution.

Thousands of volunteers gathered today to clean up the oil residues from the beaches. Some of them had to go to the hospital because they inhaled toxic fumes. The authorities then decided to close more than 195 kilometres of beach. Exposure to tar can be harmful to public health, states in a statement.

The Environment Minister believes that cleaning the beaches will cost millions of euros. Nature conservation estimates that cleaning up will take years.

A young turtle was saved by volunteers: