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When the Water Turns Black: World's Biggest Oil Spills

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People have been extracting oil for many decades with the first oil wells dating back to the fourth century. The first Industrial Revolution brought not only a fast pace of social development but increased demand for oil supplies.

Nowadays, oil can be regarded as a major asset with countries extracting this resource on a massive scale to meet the needs of industry.

Sadly enough the need to fulfill this demand has brought about one of the world's largest ecological problems - the oil spill. The world has witnessed hundreds of such incidents, albeit of different sizes.

A recent major oil spill occurred just several weeks ago after the distressed Japanese cargo ship Wakashio ran aground on 26 July off Mauritius.

Following the incident, the boat began to leak oil into the ocean with satellite images showing a large dark patch in the water around the damaged ship which was estimated to be 1,000 tonnes of heavy oil.

Last week, the Mauritian prime minister stated, as quoted by the newspaper Le Mauricien, that out of the 4,180 tonnes of fuel that were on board the stricken vessel, almost 3,200 tonnes had been pumped out by rescuers at the scene.

Sputnik has gathered photos of other major oil spills from around the world.

© AFP 2021 / StringerThis aerial picture taken on 16 August 2020, shows the bulk carrier MV Wakashio that ran aground and broke into two parts near Blue Bay Marine Park, Mauritius. The ship has leaked more than 1,000 tonnes of oil into the pristine waters off the coast of Mauritius and split into two parts, according to its Japanese operator.
This aerial picture taken on 16 August 2020, shows the bulk carrier MV Wakashio that ran aground and broke into two parts near Blue Bay Marine Park, Mauritius. - Sputnik International
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This aerial picture taken on 16 August 2020, shows the bulk carrier MV Wakashio that ran aground and broke into two parts near Blue Bay Marine Park, Mauritius. The ship has leaked more than 1,000 tonnes of oil into the pristine waters off the coast of Mauritius and split into two parts, according to its Japanese operator.
© AFP 2021 / Daniel LunaSunbathers watch workers clean up oil spilled on the resort beach of Playa Nueva in Magdalena, Argentina, 100 km (62 miles) south of Buenos Aires, 21 January 1999. Some 250,000 litres (65,000 gallons) of crude petroleum leaked from the Liberian oil tanker "Estrella Pampeana", carrying oil for the company Shell, when it collided with the German container ship "Sea Parana" 15 January on the Rio de la Plata. Environmental officials report that the spill will have a serious impact on the river's ecology.
Sunbathers watch workers clean up oil spilled on the resort beach of Playa Nueva in Magdalena, Argentina, 100 km (62 miles) south of Buenos Aires, 21 January 1999. - Sputnik International
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Sunbathers watch workers clean up oil spilled on the resort beach of Playa Nueva in Magdalena, Argentina, 100 km (62 miles) south of Buenos Aires, 21 January 1999. Some 250,000 litres (65,000 gallons) of crude petroleum leaked from the Liberian oil tanker "Estrella Pampeana", carrying oil for the company Shell, when it collided with the German container ship "Sea Parana" 15 January on the Rio de la Plata. Environmental officials report that the spill will have a serious impact on the river's ecology.
© AP Photo / Ministry of TransportThis photo taken on 14 January 2018 and provided by China's Ministry of Transport, shows smoke and fumes from the burning Iranian oil tanker Sanchi in the East China Sea off the eastern coast of China.
This photo taken on 14 January 2018 and provided by China's Ministry of Transport, shows smoke and fumes from the burning Iranian oil tanker Sanchi in the East China Sea off the eastern coast of China. - Sputnik International
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This photo taken on 14 January 2018 and provided by China's Ministry of Transport, shows smoke and fumes from the burning Iranian oil tanker Sanchi in the East China Sea off the eastern coast of China.
© AP Photo / Bak Sung-ryul / YonhapLocal residents use baskets to remove dense crude oil at Mallipo beach, South Korea on 9 December 2007 following a devastating oil spill.
Local residents use baskets to remove dense crude oil at Mallipo beach, South Korea on 9 December 2007 following a devastating oil spill. - Sputnik International
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Local residents use baskets to remove dense crude oil at Mallipo beach, South Korea on 9 December 2007 following a devastating oil spill.
© AP Photo / Dave MartinOil is burned on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico a few miles from the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster Wednesday, 16 June 2010.
Oil is burned on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico a few miles from the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster Wednesday, 16 June 2010. - Sputnik International
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Oil is burned on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico a few miles from the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster Wednesday, 16 June 2010.
© AFP 2021 / EPAMembers of the media with masks on their faces watch the wreckage of the oil tanker Braer that ran aground during a storm off Shetland, Scotland, in January 1993 and broke up a week later following storm force winds.
Members of the media with masks on their faces watch the wreckage of the oil tanker Braer that ran aground during a storm off Shetland, Scotland, in January 1993 and broke up a week later following storm force winds. - Sputnik International
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Members of the media with masks on their faces watch the wreckage of the oil tanker Braer that ran aground during a storm off Shetland, Scotland, in January 1993 and broke up a week later following storm force winds.
© AP Photo / Dino NazzaroSmoke rises from the sinking Cypriot-registered oil tanker Haven after a huge explosion rocked the tanker on 13 April 1991.
Smoke rises from the sinking Cypriot-registered oil tanker Haven after a huge explosion rocked the tanker on 13 April 1991. - Sputnik International
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Smoke rises from the sinking Cypriot-registered oil tanker Haven after a huge explosion rocked the tanker on 13 April 1991.
© AFP 2021Soldiers and volunteers clean up an oil slick on 14 April 1967 on the beach at Tregastel. On 18 March 1967, owing to a navigational error, the oil tanker Torrey Canyon struck Pollard's Rock in the Seven Stones reef between the Isles of Scilly and Land's End, Cornwall, causing major environmental damage on the Cornish and French coasts. Around 120,000 tonnes of crude oil spilled out, killing about 200,000 birds.
Soldiers and volunteers clean up an oil slick on 14 April 1967 on the beach at Tregastel. - Sputnik International
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Soldiers and volunteers clean up an oil slick on 14 April 1967 on the beach at Tregastel. On 18 March 1967, owing to a navigational error, the oil tanker Torrey Canyon struck Pollard's Rock in the Seven Stones reef between the Isles of Scilly and Land's End, Cornwall, causing major environmental damage on the Cornish and French coasts. Around 120,000 tonnes of crude oil spilled out, killing about 200,000 birds.
© Photo : Public domain / noaa.govThe supertanker Amoco Cadiz is seen submerging after it ran aground on 16 March 1978 on Portsall Rocks, 5 km from the coast of Brittany, France.
The supertanker Amoco Cadiz is seen submerging after it ran aground on 16 March 1978 on Portsall Rocks, 5 km from the coast of Brittany, France. - Sputnik International
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The supertanker Amoco Cadiz is seen submerging after it ran aground on 16 March 1978 on Portsall Rocks, 5 km from the coast of Brittany, France.
© AP Photo / Jack SmithAn oil-covered bird is examined on an island in Prince William Sound, Alaska in April 1989 following a massive oil slick that occurred after the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground about 25 miles from Valdez, Alaska.
An oil-covered bird is examined on an island in Prince William Sound, Alaska in April 1989 following a massive oil slick that occurred after the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground about 25 miles from Valdez, Alaska. - Sputnik International
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An oil-covered bird is examined on an island in Prince William Sound, Alaska in April 1989 following a massive oil slick that occurred after the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground about 25 miles from Valdez, Alaska.
© Photo : Public domain / noaa.govBergan oil field fire that occurred in 1991 in Kuwait during the Gulf War. Anticipating the US landing on Kuwait's beaches, Iraqi forces intentionally dumped oil into the Persian Gulf, releasing crude from eight oil tankers, a refinery, two terminals, and a tank field.
Bergan oil field fire that occurred in 1991 in Kuwait during the Gulf War. - Sputnik International
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Bergan oil field fire that occurred in 1991 in Kuwait during the Gulf War. Anticipating the US landing on Kuwait's beaches, Iraqi forces intentionally dumped oil into the Persian Gulf, releasing crude from eight oil tankers, a refinery, two terminals, and a tank field.
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