When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

In Nigeria, Toxic Ship Cemetery Poses Grave Environmental Threat

Off the Nigerian coast, near the country's largest city of Lagos, is a "graveyard" of some 100 grounded and rusted vessels that pose an environmental and security challenge to the oil-producing African country.


Just off the coast of Lagos, Nigeria's largest city, is what many consider the world's biggest ship graveyard. It's not a claim to fame Nigeria is proud off, particularly as the stranded vessels pose an environmental challenge the oil-producing African country can ill afford.

According to the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, there are 77 shipwrecks off the coast of Lagos alone. The exact number of wrecks off Nigeria's coast is not known but accepted figures run to over 100.

Corroded by rust and salt water, stripped of anything anybody could possibly sell, these ships are poisoning the waters and damaging coastlines by interfering with the natural flow of the sea. Navigating around the wrecks can also pose problems, not least because criminals tend to use them as places to escape to.

Undisturbed for decades, the wrecks are like a memorial to a dark chapter in Nigerian history. In the early 1970s, Yakubu "Jack" Gowon, who headed the Federal Military Government of Nigeria from 1966 to 1975, had huge quantities of concrete shipped in, but the ships had to wait for clearance for months outside Lagos harbor causing much of the cement to harden and the ships to sink.

Nowadays, the illegal oil trade contributes its share of wrecks -- local entrepreneurs buy up vessels well past their prime to ship what, according to Royal Dutch Shell PLC, are 150,000 barrels of stolen Nigerian oil per day. Four of these ships sank off Lagos last year alone.

Environmental ‘time bomb"

None of this fits the image of an up-and-coming economic powerhouse set to out-perform South Africa that Nigeria has been trying to create these past few years. Not only do the wrecks keep many investors away, they also increase risks for other ships trying to navigate the waters -- and their cargoes.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan did order the removal of the wrecks 11 months ago, at a cost of up to 1.3 million euros per wreck, but little has actually happened – probably due to the country's recent economic slowdown.

But doing nothing is a time bomb, as Philip Asiodu, president of NCF, a Nigerian environmental foundation, told the Leadership Sunday paper: "If we don't act now, the sea will destroy the lagoon which would be a disaster for Lagos and the Nigerian economy as a whole."

In public statements, President Jonathan has said the situation is under control. His lack of action, however, shows that the issue is not a real priority for the Nigerian leader, who has his hands full fighting against the Boko Haram terrorist organization.

There are other ship graveyards along the west African coast, notably that of Mauritania, but none as large as the one off Lagos.

Read the full article in German by Christian Putsch

Photo - smagdali

*This is a digest item, not a direct translation

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

food / travel

Pasta v. Fascists: How Italy's Staple Dish Became A Symbol Of Resistance

Pasta may not be considered controversial today, but it played an important role during Italy's fascist years, particularly in one family's celebration of community and liberation.

Photo of the Cervi family.

Photo of the Cervi family, whose seven children were shot by the Fascists on December 28, 1943, at the Reggio Emilia shooting range.

@comunisti_alla_ribalta via Instagram
Jacopo Fontaneto

ROME — Eighty years ago — on July 25, 1943 — the vote of no confidence by the Grand Council of Fascism, leading to Benito Mussolini's arrest, set off widespread celebrations. In Campegine, a small village in the Emilian province, the Cervi family celebrated in their own way: they brought 380 kilograms of pasta in milk cans to the town square and offered it to all the inhabitants of the village.

The pasta was strictly plain: macaroni dressed with butter and cheese, seen as more of a "festive dish" in that period of deprivation. As soon as the Cervi brothers learned about the arrest of Mussolini, they procured flour, borrowed butter and cheese from the dairy, and prepared kilos and kilos of pasta. They then loaded it onto a cart to distribute it to their fellow villagers. Pastasciutta (dry pasta) specifically regards dishes with noodles that are plated "dry", not in broth. That would disqualify soup, risotto, ravioli...

Even though pastasciutta is the most stereotypical type of pasta today, it had a complicated relationship with the government during Italy's fascist years.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest