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China Fights Algae Bloom in Preparation for Summer Olympics

Chinese officials say they hope to complete within two weeks the cleanup of a giant algae bloom covering waters slated to host Olympic sailing events next month.

Some 10,000 workers in China's eastern Qingdao province are scrambling to clear waters of the algae, using rakes and their bare hands to scoop up the blue-green growth by July 15.

The cause of the algae bloom is not clear. Some experts say it has flourished because of pollution, while a local oceanic and fishery official, Wang Shulian, says natural conditions - the temperature and salt levels of the sea - have nurtured its growth.

Athletes training for the Olympic sailing events have complained that the slimy algae clumps in the water make it difficult for them to navigate. The algae covers about one-third of the coast set aside for those events.

China's preparations for the August Olympics have been plagued by a series of unfortunate events, including a strong earthquake in May, floods in June, and constant struggles with air quality in the capital Beijing.

In addition to the algae problem, China has some 33,000 exterminators battling an infestation of locusts in Inner Mongolia, where the insects hatched a month early because of warmer and drier weather conditions. Officials fear the pests could migrate to Beijing and descend on tourists at the Summer Games.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.