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Kiel Canal opening postponed until after Christmas after oil spill

origin 1THW emergency personnel work in protective suits near the canal, which is closed to navigation until at least Friday following an oil spill. Jonas Walzberg/dpa

The reopening of the Kiel Canal in northern Germany after an oil spill, initially scheduled for Saturday, has been postponed until after Christmas.

The Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration said work to extract the oil after a leak in a pipeline Wednesday is taking longer than expected.

The waterway will likely only reopen next Wednesday, they added.

The canal between Kiel on the Baltic Sea and Brunsbüttel at the mouth of the Elbe River in the North Sea is the busiest man-made waterway in the world.

A spokesman for the Central Maritime Emergencies Command said on Saturday that the multi-purpose vessel Neuwerk which was previously drilling for oil will be replaced by an oil-fighting unit on Saturday.

The clean-up of the oil spill will continue until Christmas, the emergency command spokesman said. Volunteers will take up Christmas Eve to be with family.

About 150 volunteers from the fire brigade and the German Federal Agency for Technical Rescue (THW) worked on site.

Ships in the area that were still waiting for the canal to reopen changed course, instead heading around Denmark and towards the Baltic Sea.

origin 1THW emergency personnel work in protective suits near the canal, which is closed to navigation until at least Friday following an oil spill. Jonas Walzberg/dpa