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Israel shuts down its entire Mediterranean coast as massive oil spill raises health concerns

Oil Spill Alert

Israelis should stay away from Mediterranean beaches, authorities warned on Sunday, after volunteers helping the cleanup of the tar that has smothered 160km of coastline were hospitalized, apparently after inhaling toxic fumes.

The population should “not to go [to the beaches] to swim, or do sports or leisure activity until further notice,” a warning, jointly issued by the Health, Interior and Environmental Protection ministries on Sunday, read. “Exposure to tar could harm public health.”

The announcement comes after several volunteers, out of thousands who’d helped clean up the aftermath of the oil spill on Saturday, felt sick and required hospitalization. Exposure to toxic fumes is believed to be the reason for their condition.

Volunteers will still be allowed to operate on the coast, but only after registering with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and undergoing special training.

They’ll be fighting the tar together with the military, as Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff, Aviv Kohavi, promised to deploy “thousands of IDF troops” to the Mediterranean coastline.

The spill of dozens of tons of oil occurred during a winter storm last week, with bad weather preventing the Israeli authorities from detecting it in a timely manner and dealing with the tar at sea. The story made headlines in the local media after the corpse of a 17-meter baby fin whale washed up on the Mediterranean shore together with dead turtles, fish and sea creatures.

The results of the whale’s autopsy were announced on Sunday, with “black liquid” discovered in its lungs. However, it was too early to say whether oil was the reason for the death of the sea mammal, Nature and Parks Authority said.

Environmental groups have called the spill the worst disaster to hit Israel in decades, estimating that the recovery from it could take months or even years.

Ten days since the disaster, the Israeli authorities still haven’t found the exact source of the spill. They believe that one of nine ships passing about 50 km from shore could be responsible.

With satellite images and modelling of wave movements used to narrow the search, “there is a more-than-reasonable chance that we will be able to locate the specific ship,” Gila Gamliel, Environmental Protection Minister, said.

If the culprit is found, Israel may go to court, seeking compensation from insurance companies that will be used to deal with the aftermath of the spill, the minister explained.

Courtesy of rt.com

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Six workers suffocate after falling into factory’s chemical tank in Karachi, Pakistan

Chemical Alert

Six workers suffocated on Saturday while trying to clean a chemical tank of a garment company’s factory near Naurus Chowrangi in the SITE Industrial Area.

After receiving information that some workers were trapped in a chemical tank, police and rescue workers from different welfare organisations arrived at the factory and took the six victims to a nearby private hospital, where doctors pronounced them dead on arrival.

Their bodies were later taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, where a medico-legal officer examined them and confirmed that the six workers had suffocated. Police said that the tank of the garment factory was

full of chemicals and the workers had been trying to clean it when they lost consciousness.

They added that according to their preliminary investigation, the six workers had suffocated due to a poisonous gas because the tank contained a chemical substance.

Officials said that the tank was approximately 50 feet deep and it was half filled with chemicals, adding that one worker had initially climbed down the tank to clean it, but he fell unconscious there.

They said that according to their investigation so far, one of the workers had apparently fallen into the tank and then the others followed him while trying to save him. They added that they are conducting further investigation to confirm how the unfortunate incident occurred.

Police said the were identified as Ramesh, Boora, Ghairdari, Kashan, Naseeb and Shoaib, adding that the incident had occurred in the wee hours but it was brought to their families’ notice after they reached the factory to inquire why they had not returned home all night.

Their families also held a protest and blamed the factory management for the incident. They said that a case should be registered against the factory administration, whose negligence had caused six deaths.

They also said that machines are now available for cleaning chemical tanks because of the presence of poisonous gases, but factory owners use their workers for the purpose to save money. They demanded that the government ensure an efficient labour inspection mechanism to address the problem of poor occupational safety & health conditions in the industrial sector.

SHO Ayaz Khan said that the statements of the factory’s owner and management as well as witnesses are being recorded, adding that a case would be registered if any criminal element is found or if the families of the victims ask the police to register a case. This is not the first such incident to have occurred in Karachi.

Several workers have lost their lives in similar incidents. On December 4, 2015, the owner and seven workers of a pickle factory in Korangi’s Darul Islam Society had suffocated after falling in a chemical tank.

On November 20, 2015, three workers of an oil company in the Bin Qasim area had suffocated while cleaning a tank. On May 15, 2016, five workers had suffocated at a factory in the Korangi Industrial Area.

Courtesy of thenews.com.pk

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