S. Korea fisheries minister sacked over oil spill

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean President Park Geun Hye on Thursday sacked the country's fisheries minister over a huge oil spill that has fouled the shoreline off the southern port of Yeosu.

More than 164,000 litres of crude oil spilt into the sea after a Singapore-registered tanker, Wu Yi San, hit a pier and pierced a pipeline operated by a refiner.

There was no leak of crude from the tanker itself, but a 10-kilometre stretch of coastline was affected by the incident, causing damage to fish farms.

Fisheries Minister Yoon Jin Sook sparked an uproar after she said the primary victim of the accident was the refiner and not local fishermen.

She also came under attack after photos showing her covering her nose when she visited the site a day after the incident went viral over the weekend.

The 59-year-old minister later clarified that she was suffering from flu at the time, local media reported.

Hundreds of private, coastguard and naval vessels have been involved in the clean-up but Ms Yoon has faced criticism for what was seen as a slow response to the spill.

South Korea's worst oil spill was in 2007 when 10,500 tonnes of crude poured out of a Hong Kong-registered supertanker after a collision with a Samsung Heavy Industries barge near the western port of Taean.

The spill devastated the region and triggered a number of suicides among local residents, as a legal wrangle over who was responsible and who qualified for compensation dragged on for years.