Countries offer to help Tunisia to tackle fuel ship sinking

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Some countries have offered to help Tunisia prevent damage to the environment after a merchant ship carrying up to 1000 tons of oil sank off the coast of Gabes, the Tunisian defense ministry said on Sunday.

The ship heading from Equatorial Guinea to Malta sank on Friday and the Tunisian navy rescued all seven crew members.

The vessel carried between 750 tons-1000 tons of fuel and sent a distress call 7 miles (11.2 kilometers) away from Gabes, to which the Tunisian navy responded, officials said.

The defense 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 said that Italy had offered to help and that it is expected to send a naval vessel specialized in dealing with marine disasters.

On Saturday, 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 the 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 organizations saying industrial plants in the area have been dumping waste directly into the sea.

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