'Five second' slip up creates slick off Thai coast

A broken hose on a Japanese oil tanker has deposited thousands of litres of oil into the Gulf of Thailand before safety measures kicked in to halt the leak.

According to a company statement the safety valve was open for just five seconds after a ruptured hose led to the leak of around 20,000 litres of oil.

Local reports claim the leak lasted much longer and up to 100,000 litres of oil reached the sea.

The Ryuho Maru tanker was unloading 1.5 million barrels of oil from Oman at the time of the incident on Sunday.

High winds and choppy seas are said to have limited the effectiveness of the floating booms deployed by the tanker's crew to contain the oil slick, which eye witnesses reported as being up to three kilometres long.

The spill took place near the popular tourist beaches of Pattaya.

The tanker's owners are playing down its severity and say the oil will not reach the beaches, but there is still huge concern among locals who fear an impact on their livelihood and the natural environment on which it depends.

By Sam Bond



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