An oil spill has reached Italy’s River Po after the suspected sabotage of a former refinery led to large amounts of oil pouring into a tributary.
The spill began early on Tuesday when someone broke into the plant near Monza, now an oil depot, and opened the taps, Italian news reports said.
They said an estimated 600,000 litres (158,500 gallons) of petrol and oil were released in to the River Lambro.
Efforts to prevent the spill reaching the Po failed.
Local authorities said they had put barriers in place north-east of Piacenza to try to stop the spill from spreading further, and that they would issue an order to local communities not to take water from the river.
The Po is Italy’s longest river, flowing east across the north of the country for more than 650km (404 miles) to the Adriatic.
The Italian environmental group Legambiente called the spill “an unprecedented ecological disaster for the ecosystem of the Lambro river”.
Hundreds of birds are reported to have been killed by the spill.
Page last updated at 14:13 GMT, Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Source: BBC NEWS