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Oil rig sinking off Brazil

Four days after blasts and fires ripped through a Brazilian oil rig, killing 10 of the 175 workers aboard, one of the world's largest offshore oil rigs resumed sinking yesterday. Over the weekend experts stabilized the 40-story platform, raising hopes it could be saved. But on Sunday night it sank another 1.3 feet, Petrobras said. It has now sunk at least 15 feet. Brazil's state oil giant Petrobras, which owns the rig, was still trying to determine the cause of Thursday's blasts.

Petrobras has flown in US and Dutch experts plus 50 tons of European equipment to try to keep the deep-sea platform afloat and try to prevent an oil spill. They are pumping in nitrogen and compressed air while trying to pump out nearly 3,000 tons of water weighing down the rig. The crippled oil rig threatens to spill up to 395,000 gallons of crude and diesel in underwater pipelines and onboard tanks.

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Workers unions yesterday called for better safety measures.

The P-36 rig, which cost $250 million, was the largest producer in the rich Campos Basin off the Brazilian coast, which supplies roughly 80 percent of Brazil's oil.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor