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BP oil storage tank washes ashore on Florida beach

MIAMI (Reuters) - An oil storage tank suspected to have been on the Deepwater Horizon rig has washed ashore on a northwest Florida beach, local officials said on Sunday.

The 550-gallon (2,080-liter) tank that washed up on Panama City Beach on Saturday morning had markings suggesting it could have come from the rig that exploded and sank on April 20, killing 11 people and unleashing a catastrophic gush of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

"It had 'BP' and it said 'Horizon' on it," Bay County spokeswoman Valerie Lovett said. "But it could have come from a ship or any number of things."

The rectangular metal tank had an undetermined type of oil in it and was leaking, Lovett said. Hazardous materials crews loaded the 5,000-pound (2,250-kg) tank onto a trailer and took it to a Coast Guard station for transport to Louisiana, where it will be turned over to investigators probing the BP Plc oil spill.

The white sandy beach where it came ashore, the Laguna Beach area of Panama City Beach, has not seen any tar balls or oily sheen from the spill, Lovett said. It was about 60 or 70 miles east of the Florida Gulf Coast area where oil has washed ashore.

(Reporting by Jane Sutton; Editing by Eric Walsh)