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Oil spill in Indonesia after tanker crash

Ternate, Indonesia:  An oil tanker carrying millions of litres of fuel has crashed in eastern Indonesia, spilling some of its cargo into an area of rich marine biodiversity, energy company Pertamina said on Thursday.

Workers had been transferring petrol and diesel from the MT Patriot Andalan to a tugboat in port at the island of Ternate in the Maluku chain when strong waves pushed the vessel onto a jetty head and other port structures.

The boat, which was carrying seven million litres of fuel, was damaged in several places and diesel was leaking into the sea from a broken compartment, said state-run Pertamina in a statement.

The company declined to say how much oil had been spilled after the accident late Tuesday, but an AFP reporter on the island said the slick had reached the shore some 100 metres (330 feet) away.

He said a team of some 20 people could be seen attempting to contain the spill.

The Maluku island chain is part of the Coral Triangle, a vast area that covers six Asia-Pacific nations and is home to nearly 30 percent of the world's reefs.

Known as the "Amazon of the seas", the triangle is home to six of the world's seven marine turtle species and 2,000 species of reef fish, according to conservation group WWF.

The fuel was being transported for Pertamina and the tanker had been chartered by the company, although a spokesman said it did not own the vessel.

Bagus Handoko, a local Pertamina spokesman, said that the tanker had travelled from the resource-rich Papua region.

"Pertamina is taking several steps to deal with the disaster, including coordination with local authorities to ensure safety for those cleaning up the oil in order to fire," the company statement said.

"Pertamina has deployed divers to check the mooring buoys and repair any leaks in the ship to prevent more spillage."
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