UPDATE 1-Brazil federal police investigate Greek ship in connection with oil spill

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Brazil's federal police on Friday announced a potential breakthrough in the investigation into the causes of a mysterious oil spill that has baffled authorities and Brazilians for about two months.

Police said they were investigating a Greek-flagged ship allegedly responsible for the oil spill, which they claim may have occurred about 700 km (420 miles) off the Brazilian coast between July 28-29 after the vessel made a stop in Venezuela.

In a statement, federal police said they were carrying out search warrants at addresses linked to a company of Greek nationality.

Brazilian authorities said they had also requested cooperation from international agencies, including Interpol, to further investigate the ship, its crew and the company.

The federal police identified the possible origin of the spill using oceanographic and geo-location data, which showed that the Greek ship was the only one navigating the area between July 28 and 29.

"The Greek-flagged vessel docked in Venezuela on July 15, stayed for three days, and sailed to Singapore across the Atlantic Ocean, stopping only in South Africa. The spill investigated would have occurred during this journey," the police said in the statement.

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Separately, Brazil's navy said the Greek-flagged ship was carrying oil loaded at the San José terminal in Venezuela.

By Oct. 29, the oil spill had been reported in nine states and 94 cities, according to the federal police statement. More than 107 animals were affected, with 81 dying as a result of the environmental disaster.

Brazil has so far collected 2,000 tonnes of sludge from beaches in continuing cleanup efforts, while working to rehabilitate birds and sea turtles coated in the thick crude.

Local authorities have said Brazil is following standard protocols since the start of the disaster.

Because the heavy crude does not float on the ocean surface like most oil slicks, officials said traditional methods of keeping it off the shore have been ineffective. (Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; Writing by Gabriela Mello and Ana Mano; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Jonathan Oatis)

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