Update: Singapore Oil Tanker Refloated

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Singapore Oil Tanker Refloated

SINGAPORE (AP) -- A grounded tanker that spilled 2 million gallons of crude oil into the waters off Singapore was successfully refloated Thursday but could continue to leak, an official said.

The Panamanian-registered Natuna Sea ran aground Oct. 3 about five miles southeast of Singapore, spilling oil that washed up onto beaches. No one aboard the ship was injured.

Oil believed to be from the Natuna polluted the country's southern Pengerang beach, with one slick stretching over 12 miles in surrounding waters, the Malaysian national news agency Bernama said Thursday.

On Thursday, dozens of technicians in six tugboats refloated the tanker as helicopters hovered above.

However, ruptures in the ship's hull have not been repaired, said Sam Norton, a spokesman for the ship's Singapore-based agent, Tanker Pacific.

''Until the vessel is towed to a shipyard there remains a risk of further pollution,'' he said.

Cleanup was expected to take three to four days. The remaining oil from the Natuna Sea was transferred to other ships and Singapore's port waters were ''generally clean except for some light sheen,'' Singapore's Maritime and Port Authority said Thursday.

The ship, which was heading from Saudi Arabia to China, is owned by Liberia-based Dolphin Bay Navigation Ltd.

AP-NY-10-12-00 0923EDT< 

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), October 12, 2000

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