Sinking of a ship in Tunisia
Tunisia will work with other countries that have offered to help it prevent environmental damage after a merchant ship carrying up to 1,000 tonnes of oil sank in Tunisian waters, the defense ministry said on Sunday. .
The ship was heading from Equatorial Guinea to Malta when it sank seven miles off the southern town of Gabes on Friday. The Tunisian navy rescued the seven crew members following a distress call.
It was carrying between 750 tons and 1,000 tons of fuel, officials said.
The Defense Ministry did not name the countries that had offered to help, but local media said Italy was to send a warship specializing in maritime disaster management.
A specialist marine dive team began working around the ship to check for any oil leaks.
“The situation is reassuring and under control, and no diesel leak has been recorded so far from the tank of the sinking ship,” said Rabie Majidi, Minister of Transport.
He said the next step was “tricky and sensitive” as the vessel must be lifted out of the water without allowing a leak.
On Saturday, Tunisian authorities opened an investigation into the sinking, which the environment ministry said was caused by bad weather.
“Tunisia will later determine the losses and demand compensation,” said Laila Chikaoui, environment minister.
The ministry said barriers would be put in place to limit the spread of the fuel.
The coast of Gabes has suffered from major pollution for years, with environmental organizations claiming that industrial factories in the area dump their waste directly into the sea.