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Tugboat Heading to Maritime Accident Sinks; 13 Abandon Ship

February 12, 1994

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ A tugboat steaming to a destroyed tanker south of the Dominican Republic sank Friday. All 13 crew members were plucked from the sea by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Three Coast Guard helicopters rescued the crew - all of whom had donned life jackets - from Caribbean waters and took them to Las Americas Airport outside Santo Domingo, Coast Guard spokesman Christopher Haley said.

Three Americans were among the crew. Their names and hometowns were not immediately available.

Two C-130 planes and the merchant vessel Zim Caribe also took part in the rescue, Haley said.

The 85-foot harbor tugboat Hispaniola sank about 45 miles south of Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital.

The tug was en route to help salvage the 500-foot Bahamanian-registered tanker Albinoni, which caught fire, exploded and split in two Tuesday.

Six people were presumed dead from the blast and the remaining 24 crew members were rescued. Those saved included two people - one severely burned and another suffering from hypothermia - who were pulled from the sea 27 hours after the explosion.

This week’s events were the latest in a series of maritime accidents in the region. On Jan. 7, the barge Morris J. Berman ran aground off San Juan, Puerto Rico, spilling more than 600,000 gallons of heating oil.

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