Clean-up efforts in Egypt's Red Sea under way following oil spill

Traces of oil were seen at a number of beaches in Dahab and a warning against diving in the affected areas has been issued

Egyptian clean-up workers on a beach in the Red Sea resort town of Dahab. Photo: Egypt's environment ministry.
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Residents of the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Dahab on Wednesday reported seeing traces of crude oil on a number of beaches in the area, according to a statement from the environment ministry.

Clean-up teams sent by the ministry said there was a large number of oil globules scattered across an expanse of the Red Sea near Dahab, particularly around the Al Ayl Garden, Al Asala and Zernouk beaches.

The globules ranged in diameter from five centimetres to one metre, the ministry said.

It said a co-ordinated effort to clean the Red Sea waters in the area to limit damage to marine life is being led by the ministry’s Al Salam Centre for Combating Marine Oil Pollution, located in the nearby city of Sharm El Sheikh.

Specialised teams from the many nature reserves in the area are also trying to ensure damage to fragile ecosystems is minimal.

A beach in the Egyptian Red Sea beach town of Dahab where traces of crude oil were found following an oil spill near the Jordanian port city of Aqaba. Authorities said an investigation is under way. Photo: Egypt's environment ministry.

On Sunday, Jordan's official news agency Petra reported an oil spill at the berth of a container terminal in the port of Aqaba. Preliminary investigations determined that the spill had been caused by a docking ship in the area, which is now under inspection until investigations are concluded.

Clean-up efforts on the Jordanian side were led by the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) in co-operation with the Jordan Maritime Commission.

Following the spill, an ASEZA representative told the Jordan Times that the bulk of the spill would be handled within hours and that minimal damage was expected for marine life and coral reefs in the area.

The Egyptian environment ministry said it would continue monitoring the situation closely, along with Jordanian authorities.

On Wednesday, the Chamber of Diving and Water Sports in Egypt's Red Sea advised divers to avoid the affected areas until further notice.

The Red Sea is one of Egypt's most popular tourist destinations and a major source of foreign currency for the country.

Updated: August 17, 2022, 2:48 PM