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Portugal Takes Anti-pollution Measures After Tanker Sinks
Portugal began taking measures on Tuesday to combat the threat of pollution after a leaking tanker split into two and sank off northwestern Spain.

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso on Tuesday said his government would keep a close eye on the situation and announced the deployment of a frigate to the scene.

The weather in the region in the coming few days may worsen the situation, Defense Minister Paulo Portas, who heads an emergency unit to handle the crisis, said on Tuesday.

Portuguese military planes are monitoring the region and more planes may be deployed if necessary, according to Portas.

The Bahamas-registered Prestige began sinking last Wednesday, split into two parts and plunged to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean near the Iberian Peninsula on Tuesday. It was believed to have already leaked at least 6,000 tons of heavy fuel oil and nearly 70,000 tons of oil were still on board.

Environmental experts said should the remaining oil continue to leak, it would result in a real ecological catastrophe for the Portuguese coast.

The leaked oil has come ashore on over 130 km of the Galician littoral, said an ecologist. The current bad weather has made the clean-up difficult.

Secretary General of the Federation of Spanish Fishermen Jose Gonzalez said the spilling of oil from Prestige was a severe blow to the fishermen of Galicia.

Spain's Ornithology Society reported some 250 birds of 18 species, including pelicans and gulls, have been affected so far by the oil.

(Xinhua News Agency November 21, 2002)

Oil Tanker Sinks off Spain NW Coast
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