World newswires

Israel locates Mediterranean oil spill ship

Israel said Wednesday it had located the guilty ship responsible for a devastating oil slick polluting the eastern Mediterranean coastline, but did not identify the vessel or its origin.

"We have laid our hands on the offending vessel," Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel said in a Twitter message. "Our long arm will reach anyone who harms our nature, our sea or our coasts."

A ministry spokesperson contacted by AFP said they could not give further details for the time being.

Storms last month washed tonnes of sticky tar ashore along Israel's entire Mediterranean coastline, staining 160 kilometres (96 miles) of beach from its borders with the Gaza Strip to Lebanon.

Volunteers teamed up with authorities to clean the beaches, while officials from the environmental protection ministry launched an investigation into the source of the spill.

Oil also washed up on southern Lebanon, where thick tar balls hit a swathe of coastline which includes some of the country's best preserved beaches.

The area includes a maritime reserve which hosts a nesting site for turtles which usually appear later in the year.

As well as endangered loggerhead and green sea turtles, the beach provides shelter for the Arabian spiny mouse.

An Israeli media report initially named a Greek oil tanker as a possible culprit, but the ship's owner denied responsibility and Israel cleared it of suspicion.