Captain faults Spain for spill

LA CORUNA, Spain (AFP) – The Greek captain of the sunken tanker Prestige, whose cargo of oil is causing an ongoing pollution disaster in northwestern Spain, has criticized Spanish authorities for their refusal to allow the vessel to dock once it began leaking, a local newspaper said on Saturday. The La Voz de Galicia daily, which covers the northwestern region most affected by the oil spill, said Captain Apostolos Mangouras made the criticism in testimony to Spanish magistrates who are investigating charges of negligence against him. «The Spanish authorities sent it (the tanker) further out to sea, and there the breach got a lot bigger,» the captain was quoted as saying. «It was a mistake to order the ship out to sea, it should have been taken to a quiet spot where the cargo could have been offloaded.» Mangouras told the magistrates that he had suggested to the Spanish maritime authorities that he could anchor his vessel – holding some 77,000 tons of heavy fuel oil when it first began leaking on November 13 – not far from the coast pending a solution. The authorities had refused the suggestion, the captain was quoted as saying, adding that he did not understand why. The captain, who has been in preventive detention in Spain since the vessel broke up and sank on November 17, is accused of failing to comply with orders from Spanish rescue services and with causing a pollution disaster. Oil from the accident continues to wash up on the country’s northwestern beaches and there are fears that remaining slicks could be pushed toward the country’s northern coast and the coast of France. Oil is also continuing to leak from the two sunken halves of the vessel.

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