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By Ruci Mafi

SUVA, Fiji Islands (February 29, 2000 – Fiji Times)---A tanker was ripped open at sea yesterday spilling diesel fuel.

The crew on the Dilmun Line tanker chartered by Shell reacted quickly to contain the spillage.

Late last night it was unclear how much fuel was spilled or what damage was caused to the environment.

Shell Fiji Limited General Manager Andrew Smith said the leaked fuel had been dispersed.

"We very much regret that this spill has occurred and are liaising with the authorities,'' he said in a statement.

Smith said there was no visible evidence of damage to the environment.

But Taveuni Chief and Opposition Leader Ratu Inoke Kubuabola said the people involved would be held responsible.

"We will find out who is involved and responsible and see that they pay,'' he said.

It is believed that the tanker grazed a coral outcrop, causing the spill.

Police on Taveuni said last night details of the incident were sketchy.

Villagers have been hired by Shell to help in clean-up operations.

Shell will continue to monitor the situation.

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

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