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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Wreck Threatens Sakhalin

A Japanese ship that sank off the island of Sakhalin 20 years ago has begun leaking oil, prompting Russian officials to send a rescue vessel to contain the spill, Interfax reported Wednesday.

Divers will also try to recover the bodies of 19 seamen who went down with the ship, the report said.

The Takoe-Maru merchant ship, owned by Daichi-Kison Co. Ltd. and carrying a cargo of 3,750 metric tons of coal from the port of Shakhtyorsk, sank in stormy weather in October 1979, Interfax said.

Of its crew of 21, only two sailors survived, the news agency said.

Russian officials first spotted a slick of oil Sunday, and it now stretches several kilometers north of the vessel.

The ships' tanks are believed to contain some 320 tons of fuel oil, Igor Zhdanov, a spokesman for the Sakhalin Rescue Service, said in comments carried by Interfax.

The Atlas rescue ship is expected to arrive at the site Thursday, carrying a team of divers and the necessary equipment to patch up the leak.

Russian officials have asked Japanese consul on Sakhalin to contact the ship's owners in order to help get manuals showing where the fuel tanks are located.