An oil tanker that collided with a freighter in the Baltic Sea spilled about 550,000 gallons of oil, authorities said Thursday, and small slicks had reached the shores of Denmark.
The collision late Wednesday ripped a wide gash in the side of the double-hulled tanker, which was carrying nearly 9.7 million gallons of oil, but the leak was stemmed in time to keep most of it inside.
The Marshall Islands-registered tanker Baltic Carrier and the Cypriot sugar freighter Tern remained afloat after the crash in international waters about 15 miles northwest of the German coastal town of Darsser Ort. The cause of the collision was not immediately known. No injuries were reported.
Winds as strong as 45 mph broke the spilled oil into dozens of slicks that were pushed toward the Danish islands of Falster and Moen south of Zealand, the island where the capital, Copenhagen, is located.
"We will do all that we can to avoid a disaster," Danish Environment Minister Svend Auken said.
"The problem is that the waves and the winds make it impossible for us to use our tools" to scoop and contain the oil, Frank Kiel Rasmussen, commander of the Danish vessel that led the cleanup, told Denmark's TV2 channel.
One of the larger slicks was about 500 feet long and 100 feet wide, authorities said.