Unusually high waves attributed to the eruption of an undersea volcano in Tonga have caused an oil spill on the Peruvian Pacific coast.
In a press release, the Peruvian Civil Defense Institute said a ship had been unloading oil at La Pampilla refinery on Sunday when strong waves pushed it, causing a spill.
Saturday’s eruption caused waves that crossed the Pacific. In Peru, two people drowned and there were reports of minor damage from New Zealand to the US state of California.
On Peru’s coast, a black mass of crude oil could be seen extending some 3km (1.9 miles) along the shoreline, affecting beaches in three coastal districts, causing marine contamination, and killing birds and ocean organisms.
“This is worrying because it is very difficult to remedy,” environment minister Ruben Ramirez said at a press conference.
The government did not say how much oil had spilled, only that local and federal authorities were working on the clean-up.
La Pampilla refinery, in the province of Callao near Lima’s capital, belongs to the Spanish company Repsol.
It is considered the main oil processing plant in Peru. Local authorities closed beaches in the area to the public from Sunday.