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Fuel ship sinks off coast of Tunisia, posing serious environmental threat

Two security sources told the media that Tunisian authorities stepped up efforts on Saturday to avoid an environmental disaster after a merchant petroleum ship carrying 1,000 tonnes of fuel sank off the coast of Gabes on Friday.

According to the reports, the Tunisian navy rescued all seven crew members from the ship, which was sailing from Equatorial Guinea to Malta, and sent a distress signal seven miles south of Gabes.

The event was caused by inclement weather, according to the environment ministry, and water had crept into the ship, reaching a height of two metres.

The ministry stated in a statement that authorities were striving to avoid an environmental disaster and minimise any negative consequences.

It stated that barriers would be erected to contain the spill and cordon off the ship before suctioning it.

For years, the Gabes shoreline has been severely polluted, according to environmental organisations, with industrial enterprises in the vicinity pouring waste directly into the sea.



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