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Sunken fuel ship in Tunisia may cause environmental damage

The ship heading from Equatorial Guinea to Malta sank off the coast of Gabes on Friday, April 15. The vessel was carrying between 750 tonnes and 1,000 tonnes of fuel and sent a distress call seven miles away from Gabes to which the Tunisian navy responded, officials said. The Tunisian navy rescued all seven crew members.

Some countries have offered to help Tunisia to minimise damage to the environment after, the Tunisian defence ministry said on Sunday, April 17. The defence ministry said in a statement sent to Reuters that to control the environmental damage the Tunisian navy will work with countries that have expressed their desire to help.

Local media have stated that Italy offered to help and that it is expected to send a naval vessel specialised in dealing with marine disasters.

Some countries have offered to help Tunisia prevent damage to the environment after a merchant ship carrying up to one thousand tonnes of oil sank off the coast of Gabes, the Tunisian defence ministry said on Sunday. https://t.co/L4G74Y5JRl pic.twitter.com/6OBmO0SzLo

— Reuters Africa (@ReutersAfrica) April 17, 2022

Tunisian fishermen say they are worried about the potential environmental damage that might be caused by a sunken fuel ship. “If the leakage occurs on the sea of Gabes and Ghannouch, we will not have anything left, as we already only have a little part of the sea left to live on,” said fisherman Hajej Sallami.

On Saturday, April 16, Tunisian authorities opened an investigation into the ship’s sinking, which the environment ministry said was caused by bad weather. It said barriers would be set up to limit the spread of fuel and cordon off the ship, before suctioning the spillage.

The coast of the southern city of Gabes has suffered major pollution for years, with environmental organisations saying industrial plants in the area have been dumping waste directly into the sea.

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