Some neighbouring nations have extended to help Tunisia prevent damage to the environment after a merchant ship carrying over 750 tonnes of fuel sank off the country’s coast, the Tunisian defence ministry has said.
The Guardian reports that the ship, which set sail from Equatorial Guinea to Malta, pleaded for entry to Tunisian waters owing to bad weather on Friday evening. It, however, sank near Gabes. The Tunisian navy was able to rescue seven crew members. After being taken to a hospital, all seven were moved to a hotel.
Xelo was carrying fuel up to 1,000 tonnes. The tanker is 58 metres in length and nine meters in width, per the ship monitoring website named Vesseltracker.com.
In a statement shared with Reuters, the defence ministry mentioned that to control the environmental damage, the Tunisian navy would work with nations that had shown the desire to help. Divers who have examined the tanker found no leaks on Sunday, officials said.
Rabie Majidi, the transport minister, said rescue workers had checked during the operation that the valves were closed, and the team of divers made sure that they were intact and sealed.
The minister said the priority was to pump the diesel fuel and prevent any spillage or pollution. An Italian ship that specializes in cleaning marine pollution will be sent with a team of divers to aid with efforts, an Italian official mentioned.
As a precautionary measure, protective booms are placed around the wreck. With the scene sealed off by Tunisia’s military, the defense ministry released images showing how the vessel had submerged on its side.
The authorities of Tunisia opened an investigation into the ship’s sinking on Saturday. Earlier, the environment ministry mentioned that it was caused by bad weather.
The coast of the southern city of Gabes has experienced major pollution for several years, with environmental organizations saying industrial plants in that area have been dumping wastes into the sea directly.