Ship with 750 tonnes of diesel sank off the coast of Tunisia

An oil tanker carrying 750 tonnes of diesel and heading from Egypt to Malta sank this Saturday (16) in the Gulf of Gabes, off the southeast coast of Tunisia, causing a massive mobilization to prevent a major spill.

Environment Minister Leila Chikhaoui, interviewed at midday on national television, said the situation was “under control”.

At the same time, his ministry announced in a statement “the installation of anti-pollution barriers around the wreck area, the planned pumping of diesel and the inspection by divers of the state of the hull” of the ship.

“There are minimal leaks that are not visible to the naked eye … so there should not be a catastrophe in the Gulf of Gabes,” Mohamed Karray, spokesman for the Gabes court, which opened an investigation to determine the causes, told AFP. of the accident.

That same day, the official told AFP that an oil tanker carrying 750 tonnes of diesel, in danger since the previous night, “sinked this morning (Saturday) in Tunisian territorial waters”.

The oil tanker ‘Xelo’ (IMO registration 7618272), 58 meters long and 9 meters wide -according to the Vesseltracker website- and carrying the flag of Equatorial Guinea, was heading to the island of Malta from the port of Damietta in Egypt, according to the ministry.

To protect itself from bad weather conditions, the ship asked to enter Tunisia’s territorial waters on Friday night.

When it was about 7 km off the coast of the Gulf of Gabes, the tanker began to sink, according to the ministry. The water seeped into the engine room, rising nearly two meters into the air.

The Tunisian authorities then evacuated the crew, consisting of seven people, who were aboard the endangered ship, the ministry added.

The authorities quickly pushed forward “the national emergency plan for the prevention of marine pollution, with the aim of controlling the situation and preventing the spread of pollutants”.

The ministries of Defence, Interior, Transport and Customs are working to avoid “a marine environmental catastrophe in the region and limit its repercussions”, assured the Ministry of the Environment.

According to the court’s spokesman, the crew, made up of a Georgian captain, four Turks and two Azerbaijanis, were “briefly hospitalized for a medical check-up and then accommodated in a hotel”.

The crew is being interrogated to understand the reasons for the ship’s sinking, Karray added later.

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