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Syrian oil spill large as New York City threatens northern coast of Cyprus

Christian Fernsby |
An oil slick in the Mediterranean Sea could soon reach Cyprus’ northeastern coast, officials have warned.

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The spill is believed to have originated from a power plant inside one of Syria’s oil refineries.

Satellite imagery analysis by Orbital EOS now indicates that the oil spill was larger than originally thought, covering around 800 square kilometres (309 square miles), an area around the same size as New York City. The company told CNN Tuesday evening that the oil slick was around 7 kilometers (4 miles) from the Cypriot coast.

The Cypriot Fisheries and Marine Research Department said the oil spill could affect Apostolos Andreas Cape in the north of the ethnically divided island by late Tuesday.

The Department said that information and photographs received from ships in the region show the slick is a thin film of oil rather than thick crude.

Syria’s state news agency said last week that the spill occurred after fuel leaked from a tank at the Baniyas Thermal Station, around 160 kilometres from Cyprus.

Meanwhile, an official of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said a slick containing 20,000 tonnes of oil had formed in the Mediterranean.

"We are facing a very big disaster," said Erol Adalier of the Deep Diving Centre, which is helping to contain the spread of the slick in the Karpas peninsula.

The Cypriot government has informed Turkish Cypriot authorities about the slick’s progress and is ready to offer any assistance.

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