MADRID – Gibraltar is experiencing hectic hours. It all started on Monday night, after two ships collided during a maneuver in the waters of the Strait. One of the two boats – loaded with fuel – suffered significant damage and, on the decision of the authorities, was taken to a shallow area near the coast, to avoid its complete sinking. Since that time, complex operations have begun to secure the ship, in particular by trying to avoid an environmental disaster. The authorities admitted that there was a fuel leak, but argued that, for now, the damage is limited. One person was arrested for reasons related to the affair.
At first, the situation appeared under control, but as the hours went by, subsequent updates from local authorities raised more doubts about the likelihood of not having to deal with serious damage. Those responsible for managing the incident have begun a series of operations to avoid polluting losses at sea, including the deployment of a marine barrier.
However, already yesterday “leaks of a substance”, probably “lubricating oil”, were found from the hull of the freighter, called OS-35. Quickly, all operations at the port of Gibraltar were suspended, while the ship’s crew, who were unharmed, were evacuated.
Today more updates arrived: the teams activated to prevent environmental problems have registered a fuel leak, of which a “small” part has escaped the marine barriers in charge. At that point, work in progress focused on collecting the spilled pollutant and speeding up operations to extract the fuel left in the cargo tank.
According to the latest official news, both operations are still in progress: the goal is to complete most of them by tomorrow morning. The Gibraltar authorities, which are collaborating with the Spanish authorities on this case, also indicate that there is a reassuring fact: the fuel finished at sea is “low in sulfur”, therefore lighter than other types of fuel and probably easier to remove..
In the meantime, also in the afternoon other details emerged: the Royal Police of Gibraltar announced the arrest of “an individual”, for reasons related to the accident. While the official police statement does not indicate the identity of the person arrested, the Spanish newspaper El País claims that it is the captain of the ship.CopyAMP code
In an interview granted to Spanish public television, Tve, the head of the government of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo, explained that the captain would have ignored orders from the port of the city following the incident: after the OS-35 collided with another ship, he would have tried to continue the journey despite the damage to the boat and against the advice of the local authorities. “He did not stop, did not follow the instructions and insisted that there was no damage,” said Picardo, explaining that there are still investigations underway.
Madrid editorial office