PARIS – French Ecology Minister François de Rugy announced on Monday its country’s emergency services had succeeded in bringing an oil spill at sea under control in a joint operation with Italy, after a collision the previous day between two ships off the Corsican coast.
De Rugy was set to travel to the French island of Corsica to personally oversee clean-up operations after the oil-spill began expanding due to local winds.
The spill was currently being pumped out of the sea to avoid its dispersion which is menacing the nearby coastline.
“The spill is under control,” the minister said to French BFMTV. “The oil-slick, covering some 20 square kilometers (7.7 square miles), was due to a ruptured fuel tank on board a Cypriot container ship after colliding, early Sunday morning, with a Tunisian ferry.”
France can also rely on Italian first responders thanks to an agreement signed between France, Italy, and Monaco to jointly intervene in the Mediterranean Sea in the event of environmental disasters.
The oil-slick is currently 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) north of the French Mediterranean island.
The reason both ships collided remains unknown. No victims were registered among both crews and the accident took place under good weather conditions with a 7-knot breeze (13 kilometers per hour).
The Ulysse, an Algerian ferry that had departed from the Italian city of Genoa on its homebound route collided with a Cypriot container ship – CLS Virginia – that had dropped anchor 28 kilometers northwest of Corsica.
The impact punctured one of the Cypriot container’s fuel bunkers that then began leaking fuel.
The French Maritime Gendarmerie, or police, opened an investigation to try and reveal the causes of the collision.