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Canada fishing community fears exploding whale

AFP
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A tiny fishing community in Canada's island province of Newfoundland faced an unusual threat on Tuesday: a giant blue whale that washed up onto its shores may explode.

The massive mammal is one of nine endangered blue whales that is believed to have died in heavy ice off Canada's Atlantic coast several weeks ago.

It washed up on the rocks just below Trout River's boardwalk on Friday where it has attracted crowds of fascinated onlookers and officials seeking to assess the danger.

"It's sitting on our beach and filling up with (methane) gases, and there is a concern that it can explode," town manager Emily Butler said.

"I'm told that it could only explode if the carcass is punctured or cut," she said.

"Safety is one issue that we're concerned with, but whether it explodes or don't, as our temperatures warm up there's going to be an awful smell from this animal as it decays."

The whale is 25 meters (81 feet) long and could weigh up to 180 tons. It appears to have so far bloated to more than twice its normal girth, according to images in the Canadian media.

Butler said the town of about 600 people does not have the resources to safely deal with the carcass itself.

Meanwhile federal and provincial agencies have refused to get involved, saying it should be left to naturally decompose while warning not to drag it out to sea where a floating carcass could become a hazard to navigation.AFP

Safety is one issue that we're concerned with, but whether it explodes or don't, as our temperatures warm up there's going to be an awful smell from this animal as it decays

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