The merchant ship Xelo, carrying diesel from Egypt to Malta, sank off the southeast coast of Tunisia.

For the moment, there is no leak, said the spokesman for the local court, Mohamed Karray.

Loaded with "about 750 tons of diesel", he had asked Friday evening to enter Tunisian waters because of bad weather conditions, the Ministry of the Environment said in a statement.

The ship, whose crew was rescued and flying the flag of Equatorial Guinea, was heading for the European island of Malta from the Egyptian port of Damietta.

While about 7 km off the coast of the Gulf of Gabes (southeast), the ship began to take on water, which seeped into the engine room, rising to almost two meters in height.

The Tunisian authorities evacuated the crew of seven people on board the ship in distress.

The Ministries of Defence, Interior, Transport and Customs said on Friday that they were trying to avoid “a marine environmental disaster in the region”.

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