Tunisia will collaborate with other nations that have offered to provide assistance to prevent extensive environmental damage after a merchant ship loaded with up to a thousand tonnes of oil reportedly sank in Tunisia’s waters, the defence ministry reported on Sunday.
The ship had set sail to Malta from Equatorial Guinea when it sank on Friday, almost seven miles off the coast of the city of Gabes. Tunisia’s navy rescued the seven individuals after a distress call.
The ship was loaded with fuel weighing between 750 tonnes and 1000 tonnes, officials reported. The defence ministry did not explicitly name the nations that had offered support, but the local media reported that it was expected Italy to send a naval vessel specialized in tackling marine disasters.
A specialized marine diving team has also begun working around the ship to see if there is any kind of oil leakage. The next stage was expected to be more “delicate and sensitive” as the ship needed to be taken out of the water without permitting any leakage.
On Saturday, Tunisia’s authorities launched an investigation regarding the sinking, which the earlier was caused due to bad weather per the environment ministry.
Tunisia is going to determine later on the losses and shall seek compensation, the environment minister, Laila Chikaoui, said. The ministry also added that barriers would be set to limit the fuel spread.
The coast of Gabes has experienced pollution for years, with many environmental organizations stating that industrial plants in that area have been going on dumping wastes into the sea directly.