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    Oil slick endangers birds in Black Sea - 2

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    Birds are continuing to die in southern Russia following an oil spill in the strait that links the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, a bird protection organization said on Friday.

    (Adds details in paras 8-9)

    MOSCOW, November 16 (RIA Novosti) - Birds are continuing to die in southern Russia following an oil spill in the strait that links the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, a bird protection organization said on Friday.

    At least 2,000 metric tons of fuel oil spilled into the Kerch Strait when a tanker split open and four freighters sank in a storm on November 11, also causing the death of at least six sailors.

    "In the region around the Chushka Promontory, for every 30-40 dead birds, only one can be found alive, although with no chance of survival," the Russian Bird Conservation Union said.

    The conservation organization said the stricken area included an important area for 50,000 migrating birds, and that up to 10 species of endangered birds could be spotted there at different times of the year.

    Earlier reports said some 30,000 birds had been killed by the fuel oil. Tests of water samples showed that contamination by oil products was 2.5 milligrams per liter, 50 times above acceptable levels.

    The four dry-cargo vessels that sank during Sunday's storm had about 7,000 metric tons of sulfur on board. The sulfur is currently sealed in containers, however.

    A local fisheries department said the costs of damage from the spill could exceed 300 billion rubles ($12 billion) and warned that the use of chemicals to clean up the area would only double the environmental damage, as it assists the spread of oil products.

    A Greenpeace coordinator, Yegor Timofeyev, said fuel oil collected by volunteers on the shores of the Kerch Strait is being washed into the sea in some places due to a lack of equipment to load it into trucks.

    The total area of spilled oil products in the Black Sea's Kerch Strait after Sunday's oil tanker disaster is over 100 square km, a representative of the Scanex space monitoring center said on Friday.

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