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Oil Tanker Sinks, 2 Sailors Missing

November 18, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The U.S. Navy was searching Sunday for two U.S. sailors missing in waters of the Persian Gulf after the sinking of an oil tanker they and other security forces had boarded, officials said.

The identities of the two sailors were not released, pending notification of relatives.

A statement issued Sunday by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command headquarters in Bahrain said the tanker, named Samra, sank at about 4:45 a.m. local time Sunday (9:45 p.m. Saturday EST) in the northern Gulf. It did not say what caused the ship to sink.

The tanker had been boarded by U.S. sailors because it was carrying an estimated 1,700 metric tons of Iraqi oil in violation of U.N. sanctions against Iraq, officials said. The tanker had a crew of 14 Iraqis. Ten Iraqis were recovered alive after the tanker sank; one Iraqi was found dead, and three were missing.

In addition to the two American sailors missing, six others were recovered alive, officials said.

The U.S. sailors had boarded the tanker from the USS Peterson, a destroyer whose home port is Norfolk, Va.

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