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Crew Rescued From Burning Freighter

February 22, 1985

MIAMI (AP) _ Sixteen crewmen who had abandoned their burning Venezuelan freighter were rescued from life rafts Friday by Coast Guard helicopter about 70 miles southwest of Puerto Rico, authorities said.

A U.S. Customs aircraft patroling the area received a distress call from the 235-foot Rosa Milla about 10 p.m. EST Thursday and notified Coast Guard officials in San Juan, Puerto Rico, said Brenda Flint, a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard.

Two H-3 helicopters flew to the scene and discovered the men already had abandoned the freighter. The men were taken to San Juan and no injuries were reported, Ms. Flint said.

The crew told the Coast Guard that a fuel leak caused a fire in the engine room and the flames spread quickly to the cargo of paper and other combustibles, the spokeswoman said.

The Coast Guard cutter Taney arrived on the scene two hours after the rescue and won’t leave until the fire is out, she said.

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