Kavkaz, Russia, November 14, 2007
A bird coated in black sludge sits along the shore near the port city of Kavkaz on Wednesday after a severe storm broke apart a Russian oil tanker. (See full story
The accident caused about 2,200 tons of fuel oil to seep into the Kerch Strait, a narrow waterway between Russia and Ukraine that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov (see a map of the region
After the storm, the bodies of three sailors washed ashore on Monday, and another body came ashore on Wednesday, the AFP news service reported. A further 19 sailors are presumed missing.
In addition, officials estimate that 30,000 birds and 9,000 fish have died due to the oil spill. Seabirds are particularly vulnerable, because oil disrupts the insulating properties of their feathers.
"The majority of birds covered with fuel oil die quickly of the cold, as their feathers are unable to protect them," Viktor Zubakin, president of the Union for the Protection of Birds, told the AFP.
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Photograph by Alexander Natruskin/Reuters