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divers inspect the hull of the shipwrecked tanker in the Gulf of Gabes

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In the aftermath of the sinking of an oil tanker in the Gulf of Gabès, divers started inspection operations on the hull on Sunday to measure the risk of pollution.

Divers began Sunday, April 17, to inspect the hull of an oil tanker, loaded with 750 tons of diesel, which sank the day before in the Gulf of Gabes, near the coast of southeastern Tunisia. For the moment, no pollution has been detected according to the authorities.

The nature protection organization WWF, however, warned of “a new environmental disaster in the region” of Gabès, an important fishing area which has around 400,000 inhabitants and has already suffered episodes of pollution.

No leaks found

In footage from the Environment and Defense Ministries, Navy divers are seen preparing to leave, then jumping into the water at the site of the sinking.

“As the weather improves, a team of divers accompanied by the ship’s captain and mechanic, who know the configuration, go on site to examine the hull,” the port told AFP. -spokesman of the court of Gabès, Mohamed Karray, who opened an investigation into the causes of the sinking.

According to the first official findings, there has been “no leak for the moment” on the cargo transported by the ship.

The oil tanker Xelo, which left the port of Damietta, in Egypt, and was heading for Malta, sank on Saturday in Tunisian waters where it had taken refuge on Friday evening due to bad weather conditions.

For some unknown reason, the tanker, 58 meters long and 9 wide, loaded with 750 tons of diesel fuel, began to take on water. The authorities then proceeded to evacuate the seven crew members before the ship sank into the sea at dawn.

On a video from the Ministry of the Environment, we only see the tip of a mast emerging from the waves. The area is controlled by the army and inaccessible to the press.

“Light repairs”

Claiming to be able to avoid major pollution, the authorities announced the installation of floating booms as well as the pumping of the cargo or the towing of the ship.

They say they have received offers of aid from foreign countries, without saying which ones. According to local media, Italy has offered a ship specializing in the management of maritime disasters.

“We believe that the means deployed will make it possible to circumscribe the accident” and avoid major pollution, declared Saturday, the Minister of the Environment, Leila Chikhaoui to AFP. She visited the site of the sinking at dawn on Sunday.

The Ministry of Transport indicated for its part that it wanted to “verify the exact commercial nature of the ship and its course in recent weeks”.

According to this ministry, the ship was stationed from April 4 to 8 in the Tunisian port of Sfax, a large industrial city located north of Gabès, “to change crew, refuel and make light repairs, without loading or unloading “.

With AFP

France 24-Trans

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