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Some neighboring countries have offered to help Tunisia prevent environmental damage after a merchant ship carrying up to 1,000 tons of fuel sank off the country’s coast, Tunisia’s defense ministry said. .

The ship, which was en route from Equatorial Guinea to Malta, asked Friday evening to enter Tunisian waters due to bad weather. She sank near Gabès and the Tunisian Navy rescued all seven crew members. After being examined at the hospital, all seven were taken to a hotel.

Xelo carried between 750 and 1,000 tons of fuel. The tanker was 58 meters (190 feet) long and nine meters wide, according to vessel monitoring website Vesseltracker.com.

In a statement sent to Reuters, the Ministry of Defense said that to control environmental damage, the Tunisian navy would work with countries that had expressed a willingness to help.

Divers who inspected the tanker found no leaks on Sunday, officials said.

Transport Minister Rabie Majidi said rescuers checked during the operation that the valves were closed and the dive team made sure they were sealed and intact.

“The situation is not dangerous, the outlook is positive, the ship is stable because luckily it ran aground on the sand,” he told reporters.

The minister said the priority was to pump the diesel fuel and prevent any spills or pollution.

An Italian ship specializing in marine pollution cleanup would be sent alongside a team of divers to help with the effort, an Italian official said.

As a precautionary measure, protective booms were placed around the wreckage.

With the scene sealed off by the Tunisian military, the Ministry of Defense released photos showing the ship submerged on its side.

On Saturday, Tunisian authorities opened an investigation into the sinking of the ship, which the environment ministry said was caused by bad weather.

The coast of the southern city of Gabes has suffered major pollution for years, with environmental organizations saying industrial factories in the area dump their waste directly into the sea.

theguardian Gt

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