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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 July 2007, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Beachgoers warned over ship oil
Oil on beach. Picture courtesy of Roger Upright
Oil on the beach at Seaton pictured by Roger Upright
People are being warned to stay out of the water on a stretch of beach in Devon due to diesel fuel from a container ship in the water.

The pollution, between Seaton and Branscombe, has come from the MSC Napoli which is beached at Branscombe.

The advice from East Devon District Council and the National Trust follows reports of oiled birds at Branscombe.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said the fuel was residual pollution left over from the tanks being pumped out.

An East Devon District Council spokesperson said: "The beaches themselves are still very much open, people just need to take care in the water."

The Napoli, which was originally grounded in January after being damaged in storms, was refloated this week.

But she was beached again on Thursday when a diving survey revealed the vessel was more severely damaged than feared.

Oil leaking from the MSC Napoli. Picture courtesy of Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Residual oil has affected beaches and birdlife. Picture: MCA
Parts of Branscombe Beach, which is a World Heritage Site, have already been affected by oil.

Agency spokesman Fred Caygill said the pollution was "minimal".

He told BBC News: "A lot of the oil and diesel has been broken up naturally.

"Of course it's regrettable, but we are going to have a certain amount of pollution from the tanks."

He said an expert from agency's counter pollution and control branch was heading to the scene from London and further measures could be taken to control pollution from the Napoli.

Local resident Roger Upright, 64, told BBC News: "You can see the oil rolling on to the beach.

"It looks like a river.

"It's an absolute disaster with the holiday season around the corner."

The RSPB and the National Trust said it was concerned about the affect of oil from the ship on sea birds.

A number of oil-covered birds have been rescued.

Salvors are working to attempt a controlled break-up


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