A fuel ship sinks off Tunisia, threatening an environmental catastrophe

TUNIS (Reuters) – Tunisian authorities intensified their efforts on Saturday to avert an environmental disaster after a fuel merchant vessel carrying 1,000 tons of fuel sank off the coast of Gabes on Friday, two security sources told Reuters.

The sources added that the Tunisian navy rescued all seven crew members from the ship, which was heading from Equatorial Guinea to Malta, and sent a distress call seven miles away from the southern city of Gabes.

The Ministry of Environment said the cause of the accident was bad weather, adding that water leaked into the ship and reached a height of two meters.

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The ministry said in a statement that the authorities are working to avoid an environmental disaster and minimize any impact.

She said that barriers will be put in place to limit the spread of fuel and cordon off the ship before suctioning the spill.

The coast of Gabes has suffered from significant pollution for years, with environmental organizations saying that industrial facilities in the area dump waste directly into the sea.

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(Report by Tariq Emara). Written by Alaa Swailem. Editing by Sandra Mahler and Himani Sarkar. Editing by David Evans

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