Disasters Close Shave off Morocco

An Iranian tanker spills nearly twice as much oil as the Exxon Valdez, but the immediate impact is far less dire

It had all the makings of an ecological catastrophe. A mysterious explosion tears a huge gash in the hull of a supertanker off the northwest African coast, igniting a fire that forces the crew to abandon ship. For nearly two weeks, the leaking, foundering vessel is left to drift toward the rich fishing grounds and unspoiled beaches of Morocco. Some 19 million gal. of crude oil ooze into the sea, nearly twice the amount disgorged by the Exxon Valdez in Alaska last March. A replay of grim images -- gooey, blackened shorelines and oil-soaked animal corpses -- appears inevitable.

The actual...

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