CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. (AP) – A tanker carrying industrial ethanol exploded and sank about 50 miles off the Virginia coast Saturday night, the Coast Guard said. At least two of the 27 crew members aboard were killed, and rescue crews were still searching for 19 others.

Six crew members were taken to hospitals in Maryland and Virginia, said Petty Officer Stacey Pardini of the Coast Guard Atlantic area in Portsmouth. The extent of their injuries was not immediately available.

The 570-foot tanker called in a mayday just after 6 p.m., saying there had been an explosion on board, Pardini said.

Three helicopters, three Coast Guard boats and a C-130 plane from Elizabeth City, N.C., were searching for other survivors.

AP-ES-02-28-04 2150EST

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