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Black Sea Storm Wrecks Five Ships, Three Sailors Die

Russia says the bodies of three sailors have washed ashore in the northern Black Sea, a day after a fierce storm sank at least five ships near the Ukrainian and Russian coasts.

Authorities are searching for five other sailors still missing, but the approach of another storm is undercutting hopes of finding them alive.

The storm ripped apart a Russian oil tanker anchored in the Kerch Strait, spilling 2,000 tons of fuel oil into that waterway between the Sea of Azov and Black Sea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov to travel to the strait to coordinate efforts for handling the disaster. Mr. Zubkov and his Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yanukovych Monday discussed the situation by telephone.

Reuters news agency says about 1,000 oil-coated wetland birds, known as rails huddled Monday on a beach in the disaster area, some unable to fly and others unable to walk.

Russian prosecutors have opened an investigation into possible criminal charges for pollution from the shipwrecks.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.