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Diesel-laden Brazil barge sinks in Antarctica -report
February 25, 2012 / 3:00 PM / 6 years ago

Diesel-laden Brazil barge sinks in Antarctica -report

* Barge sank in Dec. with no one was on board, no fuel leak

* Brazil sending two ships to hoist barge to surface

* Two reported killed in fire at Antarctica base -paper

BRASILIA, Feb 25 (Reuters) - A barge shuttling diesel to a Brazilian base in Antarctica sank during a storm in December, the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper reported on Saturday, an incident it says the government has tried to conceal while attempting to recover the vessel.

The paper said the barge sank to a depth of 40 meters (131 feet) after capsizing while being towed to shore with its cargo of 10,000 liters (2,600 gallons) of diesel, equivalent to 63 barrels.

No one was aboard the barge when it sank and so far none of the fuel has leaked, the paper said. It did not reveal how it obtained the information. The paper said the incident was deliberately being kept confidential by the four ministries belonging to its Antarctica mission known as Proantar.

A Navy press officer was unable to immediately confirm or deny the report but said it would make a statement later on Saturday.

The barge is about 900 meters (984 yards) from the shore where Brazil’s Commandante Ferraz Antarctica Station is located.

A Brazilian naval rescue ship designed to recover submarines and a separate ship chartered by Brazilian state-controlled oil company Petrobras will reach the site next week to attempt to haul the barge to the surface, the paper said.

It said the fuel was a special non-coagulating diesel produced by Petrobras for freezing Antarctic conditions. The paper said images from a robotic submarine camera showed no signs of leakage from the double-skinned barge.

Separately, the Navy said in a statement on Saturday that two of its members stationed at the Antarctica base were missing after a fire in the early hours of Saturday, while another was injured in the blaze that had still not been extinguished.

The Estado de S. Paulo, quoting scientists stationed at the base, instead said two sergeants had been killed in the fire.

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