MADRID (Reuters) - Gibraltar struggled on Friday to minimise any environmental impact of a fuel leak from a bulk carrier three days after it collided with a tanker, as reports of oiled birds emerged and several beaches in Spain and the British territory flew red flags.
The government of the enclave on the southern tip of Spain said all diesel fuel from tanks of the beached OS-35 had been removed. On Thursday, authorities started pumping heavy fuel oil from the vessel whose hull broke on Wednesday night.
Drone footage showed an oil slick extending way past the boom installed next to the vessel, but authorities said the leak had significantly diminished, with only sheening visible within the boom, but not collections of black oil as on Thursday.
Skimming operations inside the boom have removed some 12 tonnes (13.23 tons) of a mixture of oil and water.
It also deployed clean-up teams to remove oil from the shoreline.
"The situation is being closely and constantly monitored and every effort is being made to minimise the harmful effects to wildlife," the government said in a statement, noting that it had "received reports of small numbers of oiled birds."
The OS35 was carrying a load of steel bars and over 400 tonnes of fuel when it collided with a liquefied natural gas tanker on Tuesday and started leaking heavy fuel oil into the sea.
In Spain, authorities banned swimming at a beach after an oil slick reached the shore.
"Monitoring of bathing water will be carried out in the coming days to observe how it evolves until there is no health risk," local Spanish health authorities said.
(Reporting by Christina Thykjaer; editing by Andrei Khalip and Richard Chang)