Japanese Freighter Grounded Off Alaska Coast Is Listing Dangerously Due To High Winds and 15-Foot Seas, Coast Guard Fears It May Tip Over

``The weather has gotten worse and there's an opportunity here for things to go bad,'' Coast Guard spokesman Chris Haley said.

About 153,000 gallons of heavy fuel remained on board the Kuroshima, which was being pounded by the 70-mph winds and 15-foot seas of a Bering Sea storm.

If the 368-foot freighter tipped over, it would increase chances of a bigger fuel spill and raised the possibility that the vessel might break up, Haley said.

``If it rolls over far enough, you could have oil that comes out of the vents that are part of the piping system on board the ship,'' he said.

Three contractors remained on board the vessel late Sunday to prepare for unloading of the oil. A helicopter was standing by to rescue those workers if the freighter tipped over, Haley said.

About 12,000 gallons of bunker oil have spilled since the Kuroshima ran aground last Wednesday in a storm. Two crewmen were killed when a large wave hit the ship as it grounded off Dutch Harbor, a busy fishing port 800 miles southwest of Anchorage. Eighteen crewmen were rescued.