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Fear of oil spill after the sinking of an oil tanker near the Tunisian coast


The ship sank this morning in Tunisian territorial waters. So far there are no leaks.assured theFrance Media Agency a spokesman for the Gabes court.

According to this spokesperson, Mohamed Karray, a disaster prevention commission will meet in the next few hours to decide on the measures to be taken.

Environment Minister Leila Chikhaoui is on the way to Gabès to assess the situation after the sinking of the Xelo ship and to take the necessary preventive decisions in coordination with the regional authoritiesthe ministry said in a statement.

The authorities acted the national emergency plan for the prevention of marine pollution with the aim of controlling the situation and preventing the spread of pollutants.

The Xelo tanker (IMO 7618272) 58 meters long by 9 meters wide, according to the Vesseltracker website, and flying the flag of Equatorial Guinea, was heading for the island of Malta from the port of Damietta in Egypt, according to the Ministry.

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Bad weather conditions

To take shelter, in the face of bad weather conditions, the ship had asked to enter Tunisian territorial waters on Friday evening.

While about 7 km off the coast of the Gulf of Gabes, the tanker began to take on water, according to the ministry. The water seeped into the engine room, rising up to almost two meters in height.

The Tunisian authorities then evacuated the crew of seven people on board the ship in distress, the ministry added.

According to the court spokesperson, the crew members, consisting of a Georgian captain, four Turks and two Azerbaijanis, were briefly hospitalized for controls and are accommodated in a hotel.

The Ministries of Defence, Interior, Transport and Customs are working to avoid a marine environmental disaster in the region and to limit its repercussionsassured the Ministry of the Environment.

When the ship had not yet sunk, the ministry had described the ship’s situation as alarmingbut under control.

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The Gabès region is traditionally an important fishing area, but which has suffered in recent years, according to several non-governmental organization, episodes of pollution. These are due to the phosphate processing industries that are installed there and to the presence of an oil pipeline carrying oil from southern Tunisia.

The last maritime accident involving Tunisia dates back to October 2018, when a Tunisian ro-ro ship L’Ulysse collided with a Cypriot container ship CLS Virginia 28 km off Cap Corse, France.

At the time, a slick of 600 tonnes of propulsion fuel had escaped from the Cypriot container ship, which had required the intervention of French and Italian ships and the European maritime agency to limit marine pollution.

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