[Updated at 8:03 p.m.]
Here are the latest developments on the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which unfolded after the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20:
– BP officials are reviewing a letter from federal authorities that gives the oil giant until Sunday to identify and expedite other ways to contain the massive oil spill, a company spokesman said.
- Additional areas of Mississippi waters in the Gulf have been closed to recreational and commercial fishing due to the detection of oil in the region, state officials announced Saturday.
- Environmentalists said demonstrations against BP's response to the disaster were unfolding Saturday in more than 50 cities across five continents, from Pensacola, Florida, to Christchurch, New Zealand.
– Federal authorities expressed concern that BP's plans to recover oil and provide backup collection plans fall short of what is needed, given new estimates of the amount of crude gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. In a letter sent to BP, Rear Adm. James Watson, the government's on-scene incident commander, gave the company until Sunday to provide alternative plans that adequately address substantially higher rates of oil flow.
– President Obama sought to ease diplomatic tensions raised by criticism of British oil giant BP by telling Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday that frustrations over the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster had nothing to do with national identity.
– The latest federal wildlife report says 530 oiled birds have been collected alive while 730 were found dead and 59 sea turtles have been collected alive while 315 were found dead.
PREVIOUSLY REPORTED CLEANUP
– More than 4 million gallons of oil have been recovered so far from the gushing BP well, Adm. Thad Allen, manager of the government's response to the disaster, said Friday.
– He said the government has spent about $140 million in cleanup efforts so far and plans to keep "pouring in assets" into cleanup efforts, which now involve more than 25,000 people.
– As early as Monday, BP plans to attach a secondary cap to a primary cap that was put in place over the leaking well last week. Allen has said he expects that the Q4000 will be able to collect an additional 5,000 to 10,000 barrels per day.
– Rising temperatures are adding to the perils of cleanup efforts, and workers' heat-related illnesses are now the primary worry for local doctors and nurses.
– If oil remains in the Gulf marshlands, it has the potential to affect more than 13 million migratory birds that will begin arriving in August, said Tom Moorman, who is heading up the disaster response for the conservation group Ducks Unlimited.
– Nearly 42,000 claims have been submitted and more than 20,000 payments made, totaling more than $53 million, BP says. So far, the cost of the response is $1.43 billion, it said.
– Uncertainty about the depth of BP's pockets has spurred calls for the company to suspend its dividend payments. London's TimesOnline reported Friday that the company may funnel its second-quarter dividend into an escrow account to be paid to shareholders.
– House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused BP of having "misrepresented what their technology could do."
– BP won support from billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg: "The guy that runs BP didn't exactly go down there and blow up the well," he told a radio program.