Vietnam recovers 3 bodies, sends soldiers to clean up tanker oil spill
HANOI - Vietnam dispatched soldiers Saturday to clean up beaches polluted by oil spilling from a capsized tanker, as authorities tried to recover the bodies of 13 sailors who died in the accident.
Rescuers have retrieved three bodies since the vessel capsized six days ago, and while they know where to find the other 10, operations to recover them were suspended Saturday because of the rough seas, said Trinh Vu Anh, an official at the government's oil spill response agency.
Oil spilling through the ship's ventilation system has polluted dozens of kilometers (miles) of coastline in Ba Ria Vung Tau province, 120 kilometers (75 miles) southeast of Ho Chi Minh City.
"We have mobilized soldiers and local people to clean up," Anh said, "It is lucky that most of the oil remains aboard."
The remaining oil from the tanker will only be pumped after the remaining corpses have been removed from the vessel and brought to land, Anh said.
"The waves are as high as more than two meters. The ship could break easily if it hits rocks," he said. "That situation would be very bad because all the oil would spill out," he said.
The tanker, which capsized Sunday, was carrying 1,500 metric tons (1,700 tons) of diesel from Ho Chi Minh City to Danang.
The cause of the accident was being investigated.
The Associated Press - March 8, 2008.
Vietnam troops clean oil stained beaches
HANOI — Thousands of Vietnamese troops Sunday helped clean oil off southern beaches as rescue workers sought to contain a spill from a capsized tanker and recover the bodies of nine more sailors, officials said.
One survivor and the bodies of five crew have been recovered since the Duc Tri, carrying 1,700 tonnes of crude oil, overturned in rough seas a week earlier, drifting off the coast near the resorts of Mui Ne and Vung Tau.
While authorities said the ship's 10 oil tanks were believed intact, oil had seeped from the vessel's engine system and blackened beaches along the southern coast, with rough seas hampering recovery and salvage operations.
"We have mobilized around 2,000 soldiers to cooperate with local people to collect clumps of congealed oil along the coast," said Colonel Le Minh Quang, head of the military command in Ba Ria Vung Tau province.
Quang said the troops had helped clean oil from the Bai Sau beach of Vung Tau, a popular South China Sea resort southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, and a base for Vietnam's offshore oil industry.
The colonel said that one more body had been found floating at sea -- taking the total discovered to five -- and told AFP that as of early Sunday "nine bodies remain inside the shipwreck."
The Vietnamese government's oil spill response agency meanwhile reported that large quantities of oil had stopped leaking from the tanker, which rescue ships last week encircled with a floating oil barrier.
"Oil stopped leaking out this morning," said Nguyen Quang Hung, who heads the agency's operations at the site.
"We have more than 10 divers down there at the moment. From their observations, all the oil tanks remain intact, and all the oil that has spilled out came from the engine.
"We are on standby, ready to cope with any oil leaks that may happen during the body recovery operation."
He added: "This morning divers were dispatched again, but the waves got higher around noon and they came back without finding anything."
Agence France Presse - March 9, 2008.