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Investigation shows tanker crashed into ‘half-submerged object’

January 20, 1997

NAKHODKA, Russia (AP) _ A collision with a ``half-submerged object″ caused a Russian oil tanker to break up and sink in the Sea of Japan, a news agency reported Monday.

The tanker Nakhodka broke apart and sank off the western coast of Japan Jan. 2, dumping fuel oil into the sea in Japan’s worst spill in more than 20 years.

The impact from the collision probably caused sparks that led to an explosion, Yuri Savelyev, head of the Nakhodka port authority on the Pacific coast, was quoted by ITAR-Tass as saying.

Savelyev, a member of the commission investigating the disaster, did not say what the submerged object was.

An estimated 962,000 gallons of fuel oil already have spilled from the 13,157-ton vessel.

The spill is Japan’s worst since 2 million gallons poured from a storage tank in southwestern Japan in 1974.

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