MILLIONS of gallons of oil pouring from on-shore Kuwaiti tanks threaten to plunge the Gulf into an ``unimaginable'' disaster and shut off drinking water for coastal countries, a Kuwaiti Cabinet official said Saturday. The huge slick, more than eight miles wide and 30 miles long, has traveled about 50 miles from Kuwait City to the coastal Saudi city of Ras al-Khafji, the minister said, leaving beaches blackened and turning waters to a brown mousse.
Between 100,000 and 200,000 barrels of oil have been pouring daily for the last three to four days from on-shore Kuwaiti storage tanks (which are being replenished continuously by oil well pumping) and from four or five tankers at anchor off the Kuwait City coast.
On Saturday, the Pentagon accused Iraq of intentionally causing the worst environmental disaster in the region and the White House announced that a team of United States environmental experts was being sent to Saudi Arabia to assist in attempts to contain the slick.
Saudis and Japan pledge Gulf funding
Saudi Arabia has pledged $13.5 billion more to the campaign to oust Iraq from Kuwait, bringing the total international support for the first three months of 1991 to $36 billion, Secretary of State James Baker III said Saturday.
Earlier in the week, Kuwait pledged $13.5 billion and Japan $9 billion. Mr. Baker said more pledges are expected, and the money will go to defray US costs in the war.
But more than 15,000 people rallied in Tokyo Saturday to protest the Japanese government's pledge. As protests continued, a leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party warned that the government could fall if parliament failed to support aid to the US-led coalition.
Meanwhile, Egyptian Foreign Minister Esmat Abdel-Maguid left for the US yesterday carrying a message from President Hosni Mubarak, who is known to be seeking further debt write-offs as compensation for Egypt's economic losses over the war.
Iranian press hails seizure of Iraqi planes
Iranian newspapers praised the government yesterday for its decision to seize Iraqi fighter planes that made emergency landings in Iran, saying it was in line with Tehran's policy of neutrality in the Gulf war.
Tehran Times, an English-language daily, said the violation of Iranian airspace by seven Iraqi fighter planes was ``another unsuccessful attempt to pull the Islamic Republic of Iran into the conflict.''
``Since the outbreak of the Persian Gulf crisis on Aug. 2 ... certain countries have been trying to involve Iran in this conflict.
``Iran considers this war to be one between wrong and wrong,'' it said in an editorial.
Blasts hit US sites in Lebanon and Turkey
On Saturday, a rocket-propelled grenade damaged a bank in Lebanon partly owned by French investors, and dynamite exploded near the Egyptian Embassy, security sources said.
No one claimed responsibilty for the attacks, which brought to eight the number of assaults against Lebanon-based interests of the US-led coalition.
In Turkey, bombs exploded outside the American Consulate and the Turkish-American Cultural Association in the southern city of Adana Saturday, Anatolian news agency said.
Three American offices were bombed in Istanbul last week by an extreme left-wing group called Dev-Sol (Revolutionary Left), to protest the US-led action. None of the blasts caused casualties.