Sunken Ship Still Leaking Oil in Saudi Coast

Tuesday, August 07, 2001
A ship that sank in the Gulf this week while apparently smuggling Iraqi crude oil is still leaking and an Iranian team has been sent to clean up the spill, a regional marine organization said on Tuesday.

The Bahrain-based Marine Emergency Mutual Centre (MEMAC) said the oil slick was still close to where the Honduras-flagged Georgios sank as it fled a U.S.-led naval force monitoring U.N. sanctions against Baghdad.

It said the slick could reach Saudi Arabia's eastern coast or hit operations at a nearby Iranian offshore oil field if it was left untreated.

"The oil slick, due to the calm weather is still close to the incident position...but if it is left without combating, it will reach the Saudi coast in the form of tar after three weeks," a MEMAC statement said. It also revised its estimate of the ship's cargo from 900 tons to 1,900 tons.

On Monday, a spokeswoman for the U.S.-led Multinational International Force said its ships had intercepted the Georgios for helping Iraq bust the U.N. embargo. The ship sank during the chase and all 12 crew members were rescued.

MEMAC said the Georgios, which had been intercepted three times in the past, was not designed to carry any liquids or fuel.

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