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Russia: Blazing Tanker Leaking Oil Into Volga

Moscow, 31 August 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Firefighters are working today to contain a kilometer-long oil slick spilled into Russia's Volga River by a blazing tanker. The fire on the tanker started yesterday. Emergencies Ministry official Viktor Stanotin said the fire on the "Viktoria," caused by an explosion in the engine room, is dying out as it consumed the tanker's cargo of around 2,000 tones of oil.

One man died in the blast and two of the hundreds of firefighters who rushed to the scene from all over the region were taken to hospital with burns.

Civil defense teams placed booms along the banks of the Volga to prevent pollution as the slick drifted downstream from the terminal at Oktyarbsk, near Samara, where the tanker was moored.

The slick is being contained, but some oil has washed ashore along stretches of the Volga.