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Oil Rig Sinks Off Brazil’s Coast

March 20, 2001

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ An oil rig billed as the world’s largest sank in the South Atlantic on Tuesday, and state oil company Petrobras raced to prevent 400,000 gallons of crude oil and diesel fuel still aboard from spilling into the sea.

The 40-story-tall rig, 75 miles off the Brazilian coast, was ravaged last Thursday by explosions and fire that killed at least two workers. Eight others were still missing and presumed dead.

The explosion knocked out a supporting pillar, and the platform tilted and sank slowly into the sea off the coast of Macae, 120 miles northeast of Rio.

Over the weekend, a team of navy divers, engineers and foreign consultants injected nitrogen into flooded compartments, partly righting it, Petrobras said.

But high winds and rough seas hindered efforts on Monday. Petrobras said the platform ``shifted suddenly″ early Tuesday morning, and workers gave up trying to save it.

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