Massive oil slicks threatened to pollute the Danish coast on Thursday after a tanker collided with a freighter in the Baltic Sea, creating one of the biggest oil leaks ever to foul Danish waters. "The leak is one of the biggest we have seen. We are preparing to prevent oil pollution hitting the Danish coast," a coastguard spokesman said. Six ships from Denmark, Germany and Sweden were on their way to try to contain the oil, coastguards said
. The tanker, en route to Gothenburg, Sweden with a cargo from Estonia, leaked more than 1,500 tons of heavy heating oil after the collision that occurred between Germany and Denmark, officials said. Large oil slicks measuring
up to 200 m in length and spread over some 15 nautical miles were being blown towards the Danish islands of Falster and Moen, threatening to pollute their coasts.
The Environment Ministry in Germany's northeastern coastal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern said: "serious pollution of the coastline has to be expected on the Danish side." Gale force winds were expected to make the clean-up operation difficult. Around 20 percent of the oil was expected to evaporate before it hits land. The accident happened at on Wednesday night around 14 nautical miles north of Darsser Ort on the German coast, in the sea lane between the north German coast and Falster.
German television pictures showed a huge hole, mainly above the waterline, on the tanker's starboard side. Officials said oil was no longer leaking from the tanker, which was at anchor in rough seas
but not in danger of sinking. No crew members were hurt in the collision.
German coastguards said the tanker, the Baltic Carrier, was carrying a cargo of 30,000 tons of oil. It was a double-hulled vessel built last year that was owned by a Maltese shipper and sailed under the flag of the Marshall Islands. The freighter, the Cypriot-flagged Tern, was also still seaworthy. It was carrying a cargo of sugar from Cuba to Latvia. - (Reuters)