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Singapore closes beaches along east coast as oil spill spreads

SINGAPORE (AP) — Singapore closed beaches along 7.2 kilometers (4.5 miles) of its east coast as an oil spill from a damaged tanker continued to spread Thursday.

Blotches of rust-colored oil floated next to a breaker wall at a ferry terminal while the nearby National Sailing Center, which usually gives daily classes to hundreds of school students, shut its doors.

A pungent stench has now enveloped the eastern coastline — an area that is normally packed on weekends with families, roller-bladers and cyclists enjoying the sand, sea and some of the island's best seafood restaurants.

"The smell was so bad yesterday, it made me nauseous," said Ho Shufen, a manager at the sailing center. "I don't expect anyone would want to come here until the smell is gone."

About 18,000 barrels of light crude oil spilled from the Malaysian-registered tanker MT Bunga Kelana 3 after it collided with the St. Vincent's and The Grenadines-registered bulk carrier MV Waily early Tuesday in the Singapore Strait about eight miles (13 kilometers) southeast of the city-state's east coast.

The National Environment Agency said it would take the "next few days" to clean up the coastline and advised the public to stay away from affected beaches.

Officials deployed oil dispersants and 3,300 meters (10,800 feet) of containment booms in an unsuccessful bid to keep the slick from fouling the coast.

Officials at the ferry terminal said the oil spill hasn't affected its services.