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    Russia launches clean-up operation in Kerch Strait

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    Russia has started delivering special agents to help clean up the environmental aftermath of Sunday's tragedy between the Black and Azov Seas, an emergency ministry official said on Wednesday.

    MOSCOW, November 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has started delivering special agents to help clean up the environmental aftermath of Sunday's tragedy between the Black and Azov Seas, an emergency ministry official said on Wednesday.

    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.

    "Work has begun to deliver special sorbents to Port Kavkaz to clean up the aftermath of the fuel oil spill in the Kerch Strait," Viktor Beltsov, deputy head of the ministry's information department said over the phone.

    Beltsov also said about 870 metric tons of oil-contaminated waste had been collected in the area of Port Kavkaz by November 14.

    The Russian fisheries committee earlier 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.

    At the same time, the ministry's southern department said 10 metric tons of chemicals had been delivered Wednesday morning to the Kerch Strait coast to clean the fuel oil from sea water.

    "By now 10 metric tons of absorbers have been delivered to clean up the Kerch Strait," the department said, adding that another 11 metric tons were also planned to be delivered on Wednesday.

    Rescuers have resumed the search for five missing sailors from the sunken dry freighter Nakhichevan, the department said.

    Emergency services earlier said they had found the bodies of three sailors from the Nakhichevan, while another three had been rescued by Ukrainian rescuer services.

    Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych said a Russian-Ukrainian working group set up to deal with the Kerch Strait disaster relief will start work November 15.

    "We have agreed to establish a joint working group with headquarters in the ports of Kerch and Kavkaz and will start work November 15 under the supervision of Ukrainian and Russian deputy transportation ministers," said Yanukovych who met with his Russian counterpart, Viktor Zubkov, Tuesday.

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