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Russian PM urges quick clean up operation of Kerch Strait

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Russia's prime minister has instructed ministries and departments to take measures to eliminate the environmental consequences of Sunday's tragedy between the Black Sea and Azov Sea in 40-45 days.
PORT KAVKAZ, November 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's prime minister has instructed ministries and departments to take measures to eliminate the environmental consequences of Sunday's tragedy between the Black Sea and Azov Sea in 40-45 days.

The November 11 storm in the Kerch Strait killed at least six sailors, sank four ships and split an oil tanker in two. The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said 2,000 metric tons of fuel oil had spilled into the sea.

"Measures are naturally being taken. We think large amounts of fuel oil will be cleared from the coastline in a week," Viktor Zubkov said, adding that the aim was to "establish order in 40-45 days."

Zubkov said the damage inflicted upon the environment by the tragedy will be assessed within a week and submitted to owners of ships that were in the area during the incident. He also said he had decided to set up a special commission to investigate the cause of the tragedy.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych said Tuesday Russia and Ukraine have created a working group to deal with the aftermath of the oil spill.

At a meeting with Yanukovych, Zubkov thanked the Ukrainian premier for the efforts to rescue three Russian sailors during the storm. "I would like to thank you for rescuing our sailors. I think this is very important," he said.

The Russian emergencies ministry said more than 700 metric tons of oil products have been collected in the area. A ministry spokesman said more than 600 people were involved in the relief operation.

The Russian fisheries committee said some 9,000 fish have been killed by the pollution in the strait. A representative of the Krasnodar Territory administration said mass bird deaths have been registered on the coastline in the area. "According to latest reports, 30,000 birds died on the coast, and the same number is stained with fuel oil, so they are also likely to die," he said.

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