Page last updated at 13:34 GMT, Tuesday, 7 October 2008 14:34 UK

Seabirds threatened by oil spill

Oiled seabird
Injured birds are being treated at two rescue centres

More than 200 seabirds have been affected by an oil spill which is spreading down the North East coast, animal welfare workers have said.

The dead and injured birds - mainly sea ducks, guillemots and razorbills - have been found off Northumberland, Wearside and Teesside since the weekend.

It is thought the oil came from a ship which flushed its tanks out at sea.

The RSPCA, Environment Agency and Natural England are conducting an investigation into the incident.

Rescue centres

But a spokesman for Natural England said: "It is unlikely the source of the spill is traceable.

"It is probably due to a ship which washed out its tanks at sea north of Northumberland.

"The Coastguard Agency has flown over the area but has not been able to pinpoint the source."

RSPCA inspector Ian Smith said: "This all seemed to start at Druridge in Northumberland and is now down as far as South Shields, Sunderland and the Cleveland coastline.

"We are dealing with a huge stretch of coastline and we are expecting many more birds to come in over the next few days."

The first bird was discovered at the weekend by a member of the public, who alerted Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade.

Injured birds are being treated at rescue centres at Berwick and Tynemouth.

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Experts have been trying to determine what caused the oil spill




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