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Fears rorqual could explode in De Haan

The dead rorqual sighted in Belgian waters off Ostend has been towed to a beach in the nearby resort of De Haan.  Police have cordoned off the area to keep sightseers at a distance.

Biologist Jan Haelters of the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences: "The animal may have been diseased.  People should not be allowed to approach it."

Scientists from the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences will be joined by researchers from Ghent and Liège universities.

Jan Haelters: "We will carry out a post mortem, take samples, e.g. of the stomach, to establish the cause of death.  The institute will also provide support when the body of the dead animal is processed.

Scientists are also investigating where the animal came from, how it ended up in Belgian waters and what killed it off.

Special precautionary measures have had to be taken.  The rorqual is a hot blooded mammal with a thick layer of fat.  When they die, they don't cool off, but start to rot. Gases build up in the body and the animal swells up.  Incisions have been made to prevent the cadaver from tearing open allowing its innards to end up on the beach.

The cadaver should have been removed by tomorrow morning, but the exact timing depends on the weather.

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