France battles oil slick from sunken Grande America

France battles oil slick from sunken Grande America
PHOTO CREDIT: TheStar

French authorities on Thursday battled to contain an oil slick after the Grimaldi ship, Grande America, which caught fire and sank off the coast of France on Tuesday.

The container-roro carrier sank at 1526 local time about 180 nautical miles off the French coast.

Fire broke out on the Grande America on Sunday night as the ship was underway in the Bay of Biscay during a voyage from Hamburg, Germany to Casablanca, Morocco. The fire was primarily located in cargo containers in the forward portion of the ship. Several containers fell off the ship into the water while it was burning before it eventually sank on Tuesday afternoon.

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All 27 crew members abandoned ship in a lifeboat and later rescued by British frigate HMS Argyll and were taken ashore to the French port of Brest.

French authorities said the conro ship was carrying 2,200 tonnes of heavy fuel when it sank.

Government officials said a slick measuring 10km long and 1km wide could reach the coast of southern Brittany by this weekend.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Environment Minister Francois de Rugy both said they were closely monitoring the situation.

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The Grimaldi Group, which owns the ship, has yet to issue a statement on the incident. 

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