Deadly Indonesia oil spill caused by burst pipe, company says

Part of the slick has ignited causing widespread pollution

Indonesia has declared a state of emergency to help stop a deadly oil spill spreading off the coast of the island of Borneo.

The deadly oil spill off the city of Balikpapan has affected almost 13,000 hectares of water and 60 kilometres of shoreline.

The declaration allows government funds to be distributed to local authorities to aid ongoing efforts to contain the spill, which now covers an area of 12 square kilometres but appears to spreading quickly.

An official says waters off an Indonesian port city reek like a gas station after an oil spill and fire that killed four people.

"At the time it was bad weather, so they had to drop anchor", Siswanto said, noting it was an area where ships were not supposed to anchor.

The pipeline runs under the bay between Pertamina Refinery Unit 5 and a crude oil terminal in Lawe-lawe township. "But it all still depends on the results of the ongoing investigation", Djoko said.

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Officers from the Ministry of Marine Affairs examine the carcass of irawady dolphins area found dead at the Klandasan Beach after oil spill poisoning in the waters off Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia April 2, 2018.

Sanggam Marihot, head of the Balikpapan Port Authority, said five oil booms have been deployed and collected the equivalent of more than 14,600 barrels of oil.

"We have told our teams and also Pertamina to prioritize cleaning up the spill near settlements, considering the strong smell and other potential risks [from the slick]", Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said in a statement.

State-owned Pertamina, which had initially denied responsibility, said Wednesday that one of its pipes used for transporting crude oil, laid about 25 metres below the sea surface, was the source of the huge leak. "We are sorry to report that the information that Pertamina ordered the burning of the oil spill is not true", BPBD wrote in a social media post.

The fishermen and environmentalists were sceptical about Pertamina's claim it was not responsible for the slick.

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