* TALLINN - A team of investigators from Ivory Coast will travel to Estonia to probe the ship at the heart of a deadly poisoning scandal in the west African state
"The aim of our mission to Estonia is to collect evidence on the causes of the pollution" last month in Abidjan, the economic capital of Ivory Coast, that has so far claimed eight lives, Ivorian government spokesman Apollinaire Yapi was quoted as saying by Saturdays's edition of the Eesti Paevaleht daily.
The Probo Koala ship, chartered by the Netherlands-based shipping company, Trafigura Beheer, last month offloaded more than 500 tonnes of waste -- reportedly a mixture of oil residue and caustic soda used to rinse out the ship's tanks -- in Abidjan.
A local company charged with disposing of the waste dumped it on several landfills in the city of four million people, sparking a health crisis which has claimed eight lives, seen 69 people hospitalised and triggered 80,000 calls to doctors for medical help.
Estonian officials on Wednesday impounded the Probo Koala and launched a criminal investigation after tests conducted on waste that the ship's crew had asked to discharge in the Baltic state showed "similarities" with that delivered to Ivory Coast, according to the state prosecutor's office ......
..... "The Ivory Coast authorities asked the Estonian government to impound the Probo Koala," Yapi said in Eesti Paevaleht.
"Now we need to know what is happening there. Our aim is to find out who caused the pollution" and will foot the bill for cleaning it up and paying compensation to victims, he said.
"When our prime minister went to see the people affected he said damages will be paid by those who inflicted this on them," Yapi told the newspaper.
"We need to know who acted against the people of Ivory Coast."
Two Frenchmen being held in Ivory Coast for alleged links to the toxic waste scandal have asked to be released, the Ivorian Justice Ministry said Friday.
Both senior managers for Trafigura Beheer, the Dutch company that chartered the Probo Koala, the two men were arrested in the Ivory Coast earlier this month and charged with "poisoning and breaking toxic waste legislation."
When the Ivorian probe team will travel to Estonia and who will be part of it will be decided in the next few days, Yapi said.
A spokeswoman for the Estonian state prosecutor has said the Probo Koala will remain impounded in Paldiski harbour, 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Tallinn, "for as long as needed to carry out all necessary criminal investigations."