Huge spill blackens beaches

The largest oil spill in South Korean history has devastated the beautiful beaches and coastline in an area famous for its tourism and seafood industry, killing marine life, including several finless porpoises.

Volunteers have been working nonstop since the early December tanker spill to clean up the 10,500 tons of crude oil blackening the coast of Taean, which is home to a nature reserve. According to Reuters, government officials have declared the region a disaster area and have pledged $322.7 million in loans to help its residents, many of whom fish for a living.

Meanwhile, conservationists are now concerned about the spill reaching Cheonsu Bay, near Seoul, which is used each winter by about 400,000 migrating birds. The Coast Guard is helping with the cleanup effort, setting up containment fences to keep the pollutants out of the bay. Altogether, more than 40,000 people and several hundred ships reportedly are helping.