Hong Kong cleans up greasy beaches after palm oil spill

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Hong Kong comprises more than 200 islands with glittering bays, but there are increasing concerns about pollution and rubbish blighting its shores

A clean-up operation was under way in Hong Kong Monday after a massive palm oil spillage from a ship collision in mainland Chinese waters clogged some of its most popular beaches.

The coast was coated with rancid-smelling sticky white clumps of the oil as it washed in Sunday, with 11 beaches still closed to swimmers Monday in the height of a summer heatwave.

There are still lumps of the solidified oil on the beaches and the sea  in some areas is greasy.

Hong Kong comprises more than 200 islands with glittering bays, but there are increasing concerns about pollution and rubbish blighting its shores.

On Pui O , on the island of Lantau, cleaners raked through the famous black sand Monday morning retrieving lumps of palm oil mixed with other trash, from plastic water bottles to children’s toys.

Although there is still a red flag up and the beach is officially closed, some people still ventured into the water.

One 61-year-old surfer, who gave his name as Simon and is a regular at the beach, said there was still oil in the water.

“It got under my feet and on my board. It’s all slippery,” he told AFP.

“Yesterday there was big chunks along the beach and in the water.”

He added that there was often rubbish on the beach, often left by visitors.

“I live here now, I have to put up with it. I don’t like it,” said Simon, who is an airport worker originally from Hawaii.

Beach announcements told determined swimmers at the closed beaches to get out of the water Monday.

But Agnes Mercado, 49, a regular at secluded South Bay on Hong Kong Island, was determined to take her morning dip, although she said she would not submerge her upper body.

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