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» 04/18/2007
KAZAKHSTAN
Hundreds of seal pups wash up dead on Caspian Sea shore
More than 500 seal carcasses are found over the past weeks with no one doing or knowing anything about it. Environmental pollution is blamed for this mass death. Seals are affected at a particular delicate moment in their life cycle, namely breeding.

Almaty (AsiaNews/Agencies) – More than 500 dead seals, most of them pups, have been found washed up over the past three weeks on the Caspian Sea coast of western Kazakhstan’s Mangystau region, the Kazakh Emergencies Ministry announced today. No cause has yet been determined.

“About 50 of them are grown-up seals but the rest are pups,” a Ministry spokesman said. “It's too early to say what caused their deaths. A special commission is working there to establish the cause.”

Some news agencies are reporting that the seals might have died of plague infection. Other sources blame the deaths on the sea’s deteriorating environment. In 2000 more than 10,000 seals died because of chronic intoxication.

The number of Caspian seal (Phoca Caspica) has been dwindling for quite a while. They were believed to total more than 400,000 in the 1980s, but pollution and fishing by-catch are believed to have driven the number to around 100,000.

Seals are very sensitive at this time of the year which is the end of the breeding period.

Mels Eleusizov, head of Kazakhstan's environmentalist Tabigat (Nature) party, believes that the oil industry is responsible for the crisis.

Kazakhstan's section of the Caspian Sea is home to a number of big oil and gas deposits including Kashagan, the world's largest oil discovery in the last 30 years.

Experts note that the oil fields are loaded with pollutants, most of them a legacy of the Soviet era. They accumulate in seals, weakening their immune systems and causing infertility.

Elsewhere on Azerbaijan’s coastline, no seals washed up dead, Azerbaijan's Ecology Ministry confirmed. (PB)


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See also
05/10/2008 ASIA - CASPIAN SEA
Beluga caviar at risk of "extinction" within a decade
05/14/2007 RUSSIA – CENTRAL ASIA
Putin tightens control over Central Asian energy
06/28/2013 CHINA
In China, black apples growing on trees. Government torpedoes new anti-pollution law
09/07/2010 CHINA
Beijing shuts down Hebei steel mills
06/13/2011 CHINA
Pollution in Zhejiang: lead in the blood of 600 people

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: on the persecution of Christians, the international community should "not stand by mute and inactive” and “look away”For the sixth time in a week, Pope Francis mentioned the martyrdom of Christians in today’s Regina Caeli (the Marian prayer at Easter), slamming the indifference of the international community towards this "alarming failure to protect basic human rights.” Today’s martyrs "are many, and we can say that they are more numerous than in the first centuries." In addition, “Faith in the resurrection of Jesus and the hope He has brought to us is the most beautiful gift that a Christian can and must offer his brothers and sisters. To one and all, therefore, do not tire of repeating: Christ is Risen!”
ASIA
Easter: The silence of the innocent and the gag
by Bernardo CervelleraViolations of religious freedom and the West's hypocricy surrounding this issue are likely to drag the world into an unprecedented chaos. But even in silence - of death accepted for love or death inflicted by power - God is at work. An indestructible hope rises on Easter morning and a small opening of the heart is just enough for it to invade a lifetime. Happy Easter.
IRAN
Time for a deal with Tehran, a reliable partner against the Islamic State group
by Bernardo Cervellera A framework agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue has to be inked by 31 March. US Republicans, Israel and Saudi Arabia are fiercely opposed to it for ulterior motives. Hassan Rouhani wants Iran to come back into the international fold. Tehran is playing a mediating role in the Middle East. For Vatican nuncio, “there is no evidence that Iran is preparing a nuclear bomb.”

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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