World Bulletin / News Desk
Emergency crews were scrambling Tuesday to contain an oil spill near Athens after an old tanker sank close to Salamis island over the weekend.
The spill extends over 1.5 kilometres and the full cleanup will likely require four months, greater Athens fisheries councillor Voula Toutountzi told the capital's municipal radio.
Divers on Tuesday managed to seal off further leakage from the 45-year-old vessel, the coastguard said.
"The hull is now secure, and the company has submitted a plan to begin draining the remaining fuel," a coastguard spokeswoman told AFP.
Authorities could not clarify how much fuel remains on board, or when the operation would begin.
It was not immediately clear what caused the sinking late on Sunday. Weather conditions in the area were mild at the time and the vessel was anchored.
"We need more forces to tackle the great extent of this damage," Salamis mayor Isidora Nannou-Papathanassiou told state news agency ANA.
"If the wind direction changes, the problem could spread to the rest of the Saronic gulf," she said.
The tanker's captain and chief engineer were charged with negligence and released pending trial.
The coastguard said barriers had been erected to contain the spill and tanker trucks were being used to collect the oil. But much of the fuel ended up on Salamina's beaches regardless.
Local officials said fishermen had been told to avoid the area. Coastal businesses in the area have also shut down, the mayor said.
Salamis lies just off the port of Piraeus and the Eleusis shipyards and oil refineries, one of the most polluted areas in Greece.
The sewage treatment plant of Psyttalia is also near the location where the tanker sank.
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