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Off Tunisia, sinking of an oil tanker with 750 tons of diesel

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An oil tanker carrying 750 tons of diesel, leaving Egypt for Malta, sank on Saturday in the Gulf of Gabes, off the southeastern coast of Tunisia. No leaks have been identified yet, but measures are being taken to prevent an oil spill.

The medium-sized tanker Xelo, registered IMO 7618272 and flying the flag of Equatorial Guinea, was heading for the island of Malta from the port of Damietta in Egypt when it sank on Saturday April 16. To take shelter from bad weather conditions, the ship had asked to enter Tunisian territorial waters the previous evening.

While about seven kilometers off the coast of the Gulf of Gabès, southeast of Tunisia, the tanker began to take on water. This infiltrated the engine room, rising to nearly two meters in height, according to a press release from the Tunisian Ministry of the Environment. The Tunisian authorities then evacuated the crew of seven people on board the vessel in distress.

“The ship sank this morning in Tunisian territorial waters. For the moment, there is no leak,” said local court spokesman Mohamed Karray, adding that a “disaster prevention commission will meet to decide on the measures to be taken”. According to him, the crew members, made up of a Georgian captain, four Turks and two Azerbaijanis, were briefly “hospitalized for checks and are staying 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 repercussions”, assured the Ministry of the Environment.

With AFP

France 24-Trans

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