Tanker that sank off Tunisia was empty: Ministry

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A fuel tanker that sank in waters off Tunisia last weekend was empty, the government said on Friday, ruling out the risk of pollution.

The Equatorial Guinea-flagged Xelo was thought to have been carrying 750 tons of diesel when it went down en route between Egypt and Malta on Saturday.

“The Xelo ship that sank in the Gulf of Gabes does not contain diesel and its tanks are empty,” the environment ministry said. “It poses no immediate pollution risk.”

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The authorities would now examine the possibility of refloating and towing the wreck at a later stage, it said in a statement.

It did not explain the confusion behind its original statement last Saturday that the ship had been transporting 750 tons of diesel.

The Tunisian judiciary opened an investigation to determine the cause of the accident.

The ship’s seven crew members were banned from leaving the country for two weeks, pending the outcome of the probe.

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