LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peru has declared an environmental emergency after announcing that 21 beaches on the Pacific coast were contaminated by an oil spill at a refinery run by Spain-based Repsol following an underwater volcano erupting last week.
The leakage was caused by surging waves due to the eruption of an underwater volcano near Tonga.
President Pedro Castillo said Thursday that a committee will be formed to propose ways of dealing with the crisis, in keeping with national policies aimed at protecting the environment.
Prime Minister Mirtha Vásquez said Repsol has promised to deliver a cleaning schedule, to incorporate local fishermen in the cleanup on beaches and to deliver food baskets to affected families.
Government officials said on Saturday that 6,000 barrels were spilled into the Pacific from an Italian-flagged ship, while it unloaded the oil, the Associated Press reported.
The news outlet reported that Peruvian officials were never issued a tsunami warning, so the ship continued to unload when the waves struck.
Two women in Peru following the eruption after waves swept them away, the AP reported.