Ships ordered to leave Gulf oil spill site ahead of storm

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The U.S. government has ordered the evacuation of ships and personnel working in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill site due to the impending Tropical Storm Bonnie.

The storm is likely to reach the spill site this weekend, and "many of the vessels and rigs will be preparing to move out of harm's way beginning tonight," Admiral Thad Allen, the U.S. commander for the spill response, said in a statement Thursday.

"This includes the rig drilling the relief well that will ultimately kill the well, as well as other vessels needed for containment. Some of the vessels may be able to remain on site, but we will err on the side of safety," he said.

Bonnie, with sustained winds reported at 40 miles an hour, is expected to pass the southern tip of Florida Friday and then make landfall Sunday between New Orleans and the Beaumont-Port Arthur area in southeastern Texas.

The cap installed by BP on the damaged underwater well will remain in place, unwatched for a few days. Allen said that days of monitoring the new cap have convinced scientists it will hold.

BP has suspended work on a relief well. BP's two relief wells are considered the best hope of permanently stopping the oil leak.

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