BEIJING — China's largest reported oil spill more than doubled in size to 165 square miles by Wednesday, forcing nearby beaches to close and prompting one official to warn of a "severe threat" to sea life and water quality.
The oil slick started spreading five days ago when a pipeline at a busy northeastern port exploded, sparking a massive fire that took more than 15 hours to contain. Hundreds of boats have been deployed to help with the cleanup.
Beaches near Dalian, once named China's most livable city, were closing as oil started reaching their shores, Xinhua reported.
Images of 100-foot-high flames shooting up near part of China's strategic oil reserves drew the immediate attention of President Hu Jintao and other top leaders. Now the challenge is cleaning up the greasy brown plume floating off the shores of Dalian.
The Dalian port is China's second largest for crude oil imports, and last week's spill appears to be the country's largest in recent memory.