Three dry freighters containing sulfur and an oil tanker with 4,000 metric tons of fuel oil on board went down in the northern part of the Black Sea. The bodies of three sailors have been found, and at least eight others are still missing, according to the ministry.
"Three teams have started an operation to contain the oil spill caused by the Volgoneft-139 tanker sinking [in the Kerch Strait]," Emergency Situations Ministry Spokesman Viktor Beltsov said.
During the storm, at least four barges ran adrift in the Kerch Strait off the Russian coast near Ukraine, and in the Black Sea. When the tanker was split in two, 2,000 metric tons of fuel oil and about 6,800 tons of sulfur spilled into the sea, in one of Russia's worst environmental disasters in recent years.
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.