The United States suspended fishing across a wide swath of its Gulf of Mexico waters yesterday as a spreading oil slick gushing from a ruptured undersea well threatened an environmental catastrophe.

President Barack Obama visited Louisiana for a first-hand look at what is fast turning into the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. His administration heaped pressure on London-based BP, the well owner, to halt the out-of-control flow.

Since the explosion and sinking last month of the Deepwater Horizon rig, a disaster scenario has emerged with hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil gushing into the Gulf and moving inexorably north to the coast, driven by winds.


The swelling black tide threatens wildlife, beaches and one of the world’s most fertile fishing grounds in an area stretching across four states, from Louisiana to Florida.

Desperate efforts above and below the ocean surface to check the oil flow and disperse and contain the spreading slick were being hampered by high winds and rough seas.

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