Tunisia: No diesel in ship Xelo, tanks filled with sea water
The four tanks of the ship Xelo, which sank off the Gulf of Gabes, do not contain fuel, unlike what was reported by crew members who said the ship was loaded with 750 tons of diesel, representative of the Navy, Colonel Major Mazri Latif was quoted by TAP as saying.
The tanks of the ship were rather filled with sea water, it was found after diving operations conducted by teams of the National Navy and Italian teams to inspect the hull of the ship, he added at a press conference held Friday at the commercial port of Gabes.
The minimal quantities of diesel found at the site of the sinking ship come from the engines of the tanker and were pumped out by port officials, he added.
The ship in its current state does not pose any danger to the environment. The cargo will be subsequently moved and examined to determine the causes of the sinking.
In a statement issued Friday, the Ministry of Environment had confirmed that “the tanks of the ship “Xelo” were empty and did not contain diesel and therefore pose no pollution risk.”
It added that “all inspection operations will be stopped and the possibilities of removing the ship from the water will be examined in a later stage.»
In a related development, the public prosecutor’s office at the Court of First Instance of Gabes opened an investigation against the crew members of the ship “Xelo” for forming a criminal association with the aim of preparing or committing an attack against persons or property.
The investigating judge issued a detention warrant against the 7 members of the cargo ship’s crew for a period of 48 hours extendable by 24 hours.
The 58 meters long and 9 meters wide ship Xelo, which was said to be en route to the island of Malta from the port of Damietta, Egypt, sank on April 16 in Tunisian territorial waters.
According to initial reports, the tanker, flying the flag of Equatorial Guinea, was loaded with more than 750 tons of oil and sank 7 km off the coast of the Gulf of Gabes, where there were fears of a fuel spill that could have damaged marine life and biodiversity.