Ship Captains Involved in South Korean Oil Spill Arrested

SEOUL, Dec 24, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)

South Korea's Coast Guard said Monday it arrested the captains of a barge and a tugboat that collided earlier this month, causing the nation's worst oil spill.

The accident happened on Dec. 7 when a tugboat snapped its towing cable and a barge carrying a crane began drifting in rough seas and strong winds off the west coast.

The barge smashed into the anchored 147,000-ton Hong Kong-registered supertanker Hebei Spirit, holing it in three places and spilling some 10,900 tons of crude oil that washed up onto beaches and scores of marine farms.

The captains were arrested on suspicion of negligence and violation of pollution laws. They are being detained at the marine police station in Taean county, the region worst hit by the spill, Yonhap news agency said.

Earlier in the day, Judge Lee Sang-woo issued arrest warrants for the pair "as the accident is such a grave concern and the two are expected to face severe punishment at a trial."

The captain of the 11,800-ton barge is suspected of having ordered his crew to sail despite rough seas, Coast Guard officials have said. The barge is owned by Samsung Heavy Industries Co. (010140.SE).

SEOUL, Dec 24, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)