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Oil From Sunken Iranian Tanker Diffusing In East China Sea

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BEIJING – Oil from an Iranian tanker that sank in the East China Sea has diffused into four separate slicks, covering a combined area of just over 100 square kms (39 square miles), Chinese authorities said late on Wednesday.

Earlier satellite imaging showed two large slicks, with the larger one also thicker and more concentrated, but the latest data had found four slicks ranging in size from 48 square kms (19 square miles) to 5.5 square kms (2.1 square miles), the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said.

The large tanker Sanchi (IMO:9356608) sank in the worst oil ship disaster in decades on Sunday, raising worries about damage to the marine ecosystem. The bodies of two sailors were recovered from the ship while a third body was pulled from the sea near the vessel. The remaining 29 crew of the ship are presumed dead.

The Chinese Ministry of Transport said on Wednesday a salvage team had located the wreck, which was at a depth of 115 meters (377 feet) under sea level, and was preparing to send underwater robots to explore it.

The SOA said in its statement late on Wednesday it had collected water samples from 19 spill sites, and found water from five sites had petroleum substances at levels exceeding standards.

The oil spill from a stricken Iranian tanker Sanchi that sank on Sunday is seen in the East China Sea, on January 17, 2018 in this photo provided by Japan’s 10th Regional Coast Guard. 10th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters/Handout via REUTERS

Clean-up teams were continuing to monitor the wreck area to assess the drift and diffusion of the oil spill and the ecological impact.

One of the slicks, about 18 kms in length and 300 meters wide, was found about 11 kms north of the sunken tanker, and another, about 20 kms long and about 500 meters wide, was found 2 kms southwest of the wreck, it said.

Slideshow (2 Images)

The Sanchi had been adrift and ablaze after crashing into the freighter CF Crystal (IMO:9497050) on Jan. 6. Strong winds pushed it away from the Chinese coast, where the incident happened, and into Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

The ship was carrying 136,000 tonnes or almost 1 million barrels of condensate – an ultra-light, highly flammable crude oil.

(This story has been refiled to change statement issued to Wednesday, not Thursday)

Reporting by Dominique Patton;

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Greece-macedonia Name Row Edging Towards Solution Says Merkel

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BERLIN – Macedonia is closer than any time in the last decade to settling a long-standing dispute over its name with Greece which has thwarted Skopje’s ambitions to join NATO and the European Union, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.

“I am very pleased and relieved that .. there is movement in the talks,” Merkel told reporters at a joint news conference with Macedonian Premier Zoran Zaev.

“In the last ten years, the solution has not been as close as now and it would be wonderful if the remaining difficulties can be bridged,” she said.

Greece objects to the former Yugoslav republic’s use of the name Macedonia, arguing that it could imply territorial claims over its own northern region of the same name.

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Kremlin Says Russian Defense Sector Fine Accuses Us Of Unfair Competition

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MOSCOW – The Kremlin said on Wednesday that “everything is fine” in the Russian defense sector, responding to an assertion by the U.S. State Department that sanctions had cost Russia $3 billion in lost defense contracts.

“I can just say that everything is fine, everything is fine,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a phone call with reporters on Wednesday.

Peskov said Russia was “trying to hedge risks related to instances of unfair competition on the part of the United States in the market of military-technical cooperation.”

Reporting by Max Rodionov; Writing by Polina Ivanova;

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Drought-hit Cape Town Dreads Day Zero When Taps Will Run Dry

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CAPE TOWN – A tough water-saving regime and the generosity of farmers have given South Africa’s main tourist hub welcome respite from a severe drought and helped push back a dreaded “Day Zero” when Cape Town’s taps are expected to run dry.

On Tuesday, the city of four million moved its estimate for “Day Zero” to July 9 from June 4 due to a decline in water usage, and after the Groenland farmers association also released 10 billion liters of water from their private reservoirs into the Steenbras storage dam.

South Africa has declared a national disaster over the drought afflicted southern and western regions, including Cape Town, which means the government could spend more money and resources to deal with the crisis.

Cape Town, which attracts about two million visitors each year, wants to become more resilient as the effects of climate change are felt, similar to other dry cities including Melbourne and California.

“We know that while we are going through a challenging time, we are building a world-class green economy that will be a beacon of hope for many places around,” said Tim Harris, chief executive for Wesgro, a regional trade and tourism agency.

A dried out wicket is seen at a cricket pitch in Cape Town, South Africa, February 11, 2018. Without water, the wickets are considered dangerous to players. All club and school cricket matches has been cancelled as the city attempts to avert a major water crisis. REUTERS/Mike HutchingsThe chronic drought is hurting visitor numbers and knocking a rare economic bright spot, officials said previously.

According to the South African Weather Service, two of the driest seasons ever recorded for the city since observations started in 1921 happened in the last three years: In 2015 when 549 mm (21 inches) fell and last year – the driest year on record – when annual rainfall totaled 499 mm.

Slideshow (13 Images)But, faced with severe water restrictions and punitive levies, residents of Cape Town have cut collective consumption by more than half in the last three years, as the city targets a daily consumption rate of no more than 450 million liters.

At the moment, restrictions make it compulsory for residents to use no more than 50 liters per person per day, as city officials look to see out the hot summer months into winter, when Cape Town usually gets rain.

“We must all keep doing absolutely everything in our power to reach the target set by the national department to reduce our urban usage by 45 percent,” said Ian Neilson, the deputy mayor.

Already hundreds of Cape Town residents are being forced to line up overnight to stock up on water in South Africa’s second largest economic hub and tourism attraction.

However, several desalination plants are planned and together with underground water reserves, are expected to help augment water sources well into the future.

Reporting by Wendell Roelf;

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