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SEOUL — Four American oil spill recovery experts were to arrive in South Korea on Thursday night to help with the cleanup of the country’s largest oil spill in history, according to American and Korea officials.

Three members of the U.S. Coast Guard and one from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are responding to a request for help after 10,500 tons of oil spilled Dec. 7 from a tanker in waters off the west coast of the peninsula.

The Americans will help in coordinating the cleanup along central South Korea, where thousands of workers are trying to clean about 100 miles of coastline, according to Hong Seung-bae, of Korea’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

The U.S. experts also will help estimate the short- and long-term effects of the spill, Hong said Thursday.

So far, South Korea’s requests for help have involved advice rather than manpower and equipment, Hong said.

South Korea plans to spend about $325 million in emergency funds to help small businesses and fishermen hit by the disaster, the Yonhap News Agency reported Thursday.

The spill happened Dec. 7 after a barge came free from its tugboats in rough water and smashed a Hong Kong supertanker less than seven miles from shore. The area affected in South Chungcheong Province is home to migratory birds and fishing industries.


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