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Russian Oil Tanker Breaks Up in Black Sea, Experts Fear Environmental Disaster


A powerful storm has smashed apart Russian oil tanker anchored between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, creating what some experts are calling an environmental catastrophe.

As much as 2,000 metric tons of fuel oil spilled into the Kerch Strait off Ukraine. Some officials believe it could take several years to clean up.

The Volganeft-139 was anchored in the strait several kilometers from land to ride out the storm. Huge waves split the tanker in two. Thirteen crewmembers were rescued.

The storm also sank four other cargo ships - three of which were carrying sulfur. At least eight people from the other ships are still missing.

The Kerch Strait is a major migration route for birds and is also home to porpoises.

Prosecutors have opened an investigation into possible criminal charges.

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