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Wind shift could spare S. Africa from oil slick

A change of wind brought hope that a major oil pollution disaster could be averted on South Africa's Atlantic coast following the wreck Saturday of a fully laden Spanish supertanker 40 miles off shore.

However, the government's chief oil pollution control officer, William Bricknell, said the threat to the coast from oil from the Castillo de Bellver would remain for at least a year.

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An official in Saldanha said the wind was now blowing from the south, taking the 20-mile-long slick out to sea. Oil pollution control vessels had moved to the scene and were spraying dispersants on the oil. Conservationists were concerned about both sea life and one of South Africa's richest bird colonies at Saldanha Bay. As of late Sunday, two of the ship's 36 crew members were missing. The cause of the ship's wreckage is not known.

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