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Hundreds Of Birds Dead In Oil Slick Off Estonian Coast

(RFE/RL) 1 February 2006 -- Estonian officials said today that more than 800 dead birds have been found off northwestern Estonia, where a huge oil slick was stretching 35 kilometers down the Baltic Sea coastline.

The birds were coated in thick oil, which officials believed was probably discharged by a tanker as it passed Estonia last week.

Estonian President Arnold Ruutel today visited the scene and urged the authorities to better monitor passing sea traffic and punish the crews of polluting vessels.

A long oil slick was first noticed off the coast of the Baltic state on 28 January.

Since then, rescuers and volunteers have been cleaning oil-coated birds, and gathering up dead birds to avoid them being eaten by other animals.

Many of the dead birds are out at sea, on thin ice, making the work difficult and dangerous.