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Oil Spill Blackens Thai Island Beaches

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Last Saturday, July 27, about 13,200 gallons (50,000 liters) of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Thailand, pouring from a leaky pipeline, creating a huge slick miles wide. The oil slick soon began washing ashore on the tourist island of Samet, fouling several popular white sand beaches, and now has spread to nearby smaller islands. Pipeline operator PTT Global Chemical Plc. has apologized and pledges to have the spill cleaned within days, as tourism officials have raised alarms about the sharp drop in tourist dollars. Gathered here are images of the early clean-up work taking place on Thailand's Samet Island. [21 photos]

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Thai soldiers wearing biohazard suits pass a pail full of spilled crude oil as cleaning operations continue at Ao Prao Beach on Koh Samet, Rayong, on July 31, 2013. An oil spill that has blackened beaches at the Thai holiday island of Koh Samet was having an extreme impact on tourism and could spread to the coast of the mainland and affect the fishing industry, officials and an environmental group said on Tuesday. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)
Thai soldiers wearing biohazard suits pass a pail full of spilled crude oil as cleaning operations continue at Ao Prao Beach on Koh Samet, Rayong, on July 31, 2013. An oil spill that has blackened beaches at the Thai holiday island of Koh Samet was having an extreme impact on tourism and could spread to the coast of the mainland and affect the fishing industry, officials and an environmental group said on Tuesday. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)
Cleaning vessels attempt to clear oil after about 50 tons of crude oil leaked from a pipe into the sea in Rayong province, eastern Thailand, on July 27, 2013. (AP Photo/The Nation-Atchara) #
Streaks of crude oil along the shore of Prao Bay on Samet Island, on July 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Daily News) #
Thai soldiers take part in a clean-up operation at Ao Prao Beach on Koh Samet, on July 29, 2013. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha) #
A Thai soldier shows his gloves covered with oil during a clean-up operation on Koh Samet, on July 29, 2013. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha) #
A cleaning vessel works to clears spilled oil in Rayong province, on July 27, 2013. (AP Photo/The Nation-Atchara) #
Thai soldiers undertake cleaning operations at Ao Prao Beach on Koh Samet, on July 31, 2013. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha) #
A crab covered in oil on Ao Prao Beach, Koh Samet, on July 30, 2013. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha) #
A vessel takes part in a clean-up operation near Ao Prao Beach, Koh Samet, on July 30, 2013. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha) #
Workers remove crude oil from a beach on Prao Bay, on July 30, 2013. (AP Photo) #
A Thai soldier wearing an oil-covered biohazard suit, during clean-up operations on Ao Prao Beach, on July 31, 2013. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha) #
Thai soldiers work to clean the oil from Ao Prao Beach, on July 31, 2013. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha) #
A Thai soldier rolls out a ream of absorbent paper in a clean-up operation on Ao Prao Beach, on July 30, 2013. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha) #
Thai soldiers during the clean-up operation on Ao Prao Beach, on July 30, 2013. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha) #
Soldiers shovel oil-fouled sand from Ao Prao Beach, on July 30, 2013. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha) #
Oil streaks seawater on Ao Prao Beach, Koh Samet, on July 31, 2013. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha) #
A soldier drinks water during the clean-up operation on Ao Prao Beach, on July 30, 2013. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha) #
Workers use buckets to remove crude oil from a beach on Samet Island, on July 30, 2013. (AP Photo) #
Oil clean-up operations continue at Ao Prao Beach, Koh Samet, on July 31, 2013. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha) #
Piyapong Sopakhon, 13, a volunteer from Koh Samet, wears a plastic bag as he takes part in cleaning operations on Ao Prao Beach, on July 31, 2013. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha) #
Thai soldiers wearing biohazard scoop spilled crude oil from the waters of Prao Bay, Samet Island, Thailand, on July 31, 2013. (Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha) #

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