11/01/2009 - An oil rig burned uncontrollably off Australia Monday as officials warned the massive blaze could not be contained until they plug a leak which has gushed tonnes of crude over the past 10 weeks.
As the government ordered an inquiry into the emergency, environmentalists warned that delays in shutting down the fire and leak would further harm the pristine waters off the northwest coast, which are home to whales and dolphins.
"We are ranking it as a major environmental disaster," John Carey, a spokesman for the global Pew Environment Group, told AFP, adding that oil was a slow and silent killer for many marine species.
The area was a "marine superhighway for species moving in and out of the region so it's an area of global importance," he said.
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