Three dry freighters containing sulfur and an oil tanker with 4,000 metric tons of oil on board went down Sunday. Several barges ran adrift in the Kerch Strait off the Russian coast near Ukraine, and in the Black Sea. Over 2,000 metric tons of oil spilled into the sea in what could be Russia's worst environmental accident in the past few years.
Doctors said twenty-three crew members from the sunken Kovel ship were fine and would be discharged from hospital later Monday. "Everybody, apart from the captain..., is in a normal condition. The captain is in shock and suffering from exposure," a hospital doctor said.
Eight crew members from the Volnogorsk vessel are also in hospital with severe exposure. "Most of them have a high temperature," the doctor said.
Three crew members from the Nakhichevan are in intensive care in a hospital in neighboring Ukraine.
The winds, which reached 32 meters per second Sunday, have now subsided to 15 meters.
Oleg Mitvol, deputy head of Russia's environmental regulator, said the sinking of the ships in the Kerch Strait was a serious disaster, and it would take more than a month to clear up the environmental pollution.
Rescue services also said about 6,800 tons of sulfur had spilled into the sea. "The threat of pollution along the Ukrainian and Russian coastline remains," they said.