Oil slick heading to French coast

Oil slick heading to French coast

An oil slick was heading towards the French coastline yesterday after an Italian cargo ship sank in the Atlantic carrying 45 containers of “dangerous materials”, authorities said. “According to our forecasts, fragments could reach some areas of the coast in Nouvelle-Aquitaine by Sunday or Monday owing to bad weather, which also risks making the anti-pollution operation more difficult,” environment minister Francois de Rugy said Wednesday.

France will deploy four ships to help battle the oil slick at sea and will prepare for a clean-up operation on land, he added. The Grande America was en route from Hamburg in Germany to Casablanca in Morocco when a fire broke out late on Sunday. All 27 people on board were evacuated the following day as the fire worsened, before the ship sank some 300 km west of the town of La Rochelle on Tuesday.

“For now the possible pollution risk consists mainly of the 2,200 tonnes of heavy fuel oil on board,” Jean-Louis Lozier, head of the regional maritime authority, told reporters in Brest on France’s Brittany coast. Lozier said the hybrid ship’s Italian owner Grimaldi had indicated that 365 shipping containers were onboard, “of which 45 are carrying dangerous materials”, as well as around 2,000 vehicles. The fire is thought to have broken out on the car deck before spreading to a container, however the cause is unknown, Lozier said. “Around forty containers fell into the sea before the ship sank,” he said.

“Most of them where badly damaged by the fire.” The contents include a hundred tonnes of hydrochloric acid and 70 tonnes of sulphuric acid. The pollution risk posed by the chemicals “would be very localised”, Lozier said, adding most of it would have already burned in the fire. “Dilution in the ocean would not have serious consequences for the environment.” But French environmental campaign group Robin des Bois (Robin Hood) said the group intends to file a complaint at Brest district court over the environmental damage.

“Two thousand vehicles -- it’s a car crash at the bottom of the sea, representing hundreds of tonnes of toxic materials in an area very rich in fish, plankton and marine animals,” said Jacky Bonnemains, spokesman for the NGO, adding he also feared possible coastal pollution. Local authorities have opened an investigation and the ship’s owner has been warned to “take all necessary measures to contribute to the fight against pollution”, the environment minister said.




May makes fresh push for Brexit

May makes fresh push for Brexit

British Prime Minister Theresa May huddled with her ministers yesterday as she plotted a renewed bid to convince MPs to back her EU divorce deal after securing a delay to Brexit from European leaders in Brussels. The premier faces daun

May pleads to save Brexit plan

May pleads to save Brexit plan

A dogged but isolated Prime Minister Theresa May was headed back to Brussels yesterday to beg for more time to deliver her Brexit plan, in defiance of the MPs who twice rejected the withdrawal deal. May’s fellow European Union le

Oil slick heading to French coast

Oil slick heading to French coast

An oil slick was heading towards the French coastline yesterday after an Italian cargo ship sank in the Atlantic carrying 45 containers of “dangerous materials”, authorities said. “According to our forecasts, fragment

Startups pitch their business models

Startups pitch their business models

Flat6Labs Bahrain hosted its Second Demo Day at The National Theatre of Bahrain where eight startups from its second cycle pitched their businesses. The second cycle received over 200 applications from more than 40 countries which were

Turkey tumbles into recession

Turkey tumbles into recession

Turkey’s economy entered its first recession in a decade, official data showed yesterday, just weeks before President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government faces local elections where growth and inflation will be key issues for

Abbas appoints Shtayyeh as PM

Abbas appoints Shtayyeh as PM

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas appointed longtime ally Mohammad Shtayyeh as prime minister on Sunday, a senior official said, in a move seen as part of efforts to further isolate Hamas. Abbas asked Shtayyeh, a member of the central


Jakarta opens mass rapid transit system

Jakarta opens mass rapid transit system

Indonesia’s capital inaugurated its first mass rapid transit system on Sunday, a $1.1 billion project seen as crucial to tackling some of the world’s worst traffic congestion. President Joko Widodo and other officials joine

MAX anti-stall software fix ready

MAX anti-stall software fix ready

A fix to the anti-stall system suspected in the crash of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet that killed 189 people in Indonesia is ready, industry sources said Saturday, as the company tries to avoid a lengthy grounding of its planes. Boeing was d

Sri Lanka opens work on $3.85bn refinery

Sri Lanka opens work on $3.85bn refinery

Sri Lanka began construction yesterday of a nearly $4 billion oil refinery it hopes will revive foreign interest in its shipping facilities after Beijing’s takeover of a nearby port spooked international investors. Prime Minister

Disease fears mount for cyclone survivors

Disease fears mount for cyclone survivors

Disease is threatening to aggravate the already dire conditions facing millions of survivors following the powerful tropical cyclone which ravaged southern Africa 10 days ago, officials warned on Sunday. Cyclone Idai smashed into Mozam

Caliphate ‘a living hell’

Caliphate ‘a living hell’

For the millions forced to endure the Islamic State group’s brutal rule, life in the “caliphate” was a living hell where girls were enslaved, music was banned and homosexuality was punishable by death. The jihadists a

Hundreds airlifted

Hundreds airlifted

A cruise liner that ran into trouble in rough seas off Norway was being towed to port yesterday after hundreds of passengers were helicoptered to safety. The Viking Sky lost power and started drifting mid-afternoon Saturday in perilous