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Vietnamese tanker spills oil, 14 missing

A small Vietnamese oil tanker capsizes off the south-central coast, spilling fuel oil and leaving 14 crew missing and feared dead.
AFP | By HT Correspondent, Hanoi
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2008 01:02 PM IST

A Vietnamese oil tanker has sunk and rescue crews were on Thursday searching for 14 crew missing and feared dead while trying to contain an oil slick in the South China Sea, authorities said.

The MT Duc Tri carrying 1,700 tons of crude oil was battered by bad weather and capsized near the southern seaside resort of Mui Ne in the night to Wednesday, said authorities in the communist country.

One sailor, identified as Luong Van Luu, 50, was rescued by a fishing boat and recovering in nearby Ba Ria hospital, but the other 14 men, including the captain, remained missing on Thursday, officials said.

"We fear that all the missing are dead, and we are now trying to recover the bodies," Le Van Tien, a senior official at the Binh Thuan province environment and natural resources department, told AFP.

"We plan to send down divers in the next few hours."

Tien said the seas were now calm, and rescue crews had observed an oil slick measuring about 1.5 by four nautical miles (2.7 by 7.4 kilometres) spreading near the shipwreck, 10 nautical miles off the coastal town of La Gi.

The ship had left Saigon port in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday, en route to the central city of Danang, but sailed closer to the coast to seek shelter from bad weather and high seas late on Tuesday night.

"The reason for the accident was the bad weather," Tien said. "We will investigate further."

Rescue boats arrived at the location about 8am on Wednesday, he said.

"It is our biggest ship and it was on the first voyage of the year," said Huynh Lam Son, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City-based Duc Tri Limited Company, which owns the ship.

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