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‘no leaks’ found on capsized oil tanker in Gulf of Gabes

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After the sinking of an oil tanker in the Gulf of Gabès, divers carried out inspection operations on the hull this Sunday to measure the risk of contamination. “No leaks detected,” they said.

Divers inspected, on Sunday, April 17, the hull of an oil tanker, loaded with 750 tons of diesel, that sank the previous day in the Gulf of Gabès, near the coast of southeastern Tunisia. No leaks were detected, according to Tunisian authorities.

The plungers who ont pu sur le site grace à une embellie de la météo ont noted that the ship “a coulé à près de 20 mètres de fond, in a horizontal position et ne present pas de fissures”, according to the Tunisian Ministry of l ‘Environment.

“No leaks were found in the diesel cargo,” the ministry added in a statement.

The team of divers was “accompanied by the ship’s captain and mechanic, who know the configuration of the ship,” Mohamed Karray, spokesman for the Gabès prosecutor’s office, who opened an investigation into the causes of the accident, told AFP. The accident.

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

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

In 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 is inaccessible to the press.

Avoid site contamination

According to the Minister of Transport, Rabie el Majidi, during the rescue, the rescuers “made sure to close the holds to prevent diesel leaks and the divers verified that they are intact.”

“The situation n’est pas dangereuse, le diagnostic est positif, le navire est stable car il a heureusement coulé sur du sable”, affirmed the minister lors d’un point presse dimanche dans le port de Gabès, avec sa collègue de l ‘Environment.

The priority for the authorities now is to pump diesel to prevent contamination of the site. According to Environment Minister Leila Chikhaoui, “it is dangerous but possible”.

It is “very difficult for the divers to identify the exits (from the holds) to carry out the pumping”, added Rabie el Majidi, while minimizing the scope of the risks: “750 tons of diesel is nothing” and “the diesel is it evaporates easily in the sun.

Floating anti-pollution barriers were installed in a 200 meter perimeter around the wreckage.

“The Italian ambassador (in Tunisia, editor’s note) Lorenzo Fanara was contacted this Sunday by the Tunisian authorities and the Italian government immediately decided to send an anti-pollution boat and a team of specialized divers,” diplomatic sources told AFP.

Tunisian officials are also interested in the course of the ship, built in 1977 and flying the flag of Equatorial Guinea, and its owners: a Turk and a Libyan, according to the Gabes prosecutor’s office.

The Ministry of Transport seeks to “verify the exact nature of the activity of the ship and its route during the last weeks”. According to him, the Xelo was stationed from April 4 to 8 in the Tunisian port of Sfax, north of Gabes, “to change crews, refuel and make light repairs, without loading or unloading.”

with AFP

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