A vessel carrying 1,300 tonnes of fuel oil sank near Jebel Ali yesterday afternoon. According to a statement issued by the Federal Environmental Agency (FEA) in Abu Dhabi, the fuel carrier Zainab sank 16.5 nautical miles north of Jebel Ali at around 2pm.

An emergency meeting was called by Hamad Abdul Rahman Al Madfa, the Minister of Health and Chairman of the FEA, to study the environmental situation arising from the sinking of the ship.

The statement said the vessel sank with 1,300 tonnes of fuel, leaking from the tank. The number of crew members and information about their whereabouts could not be ascertained. The statement also did not gave further details about the ship.

Asked if, the crew members were rescued, an official said, "All the information is in the official statement. The press will be informed about further developments." The meeting discussed how to contain the fuel oil spill and protect the beaches in Dubai and Sharjah from the slick.

"The meeting discussed the immediate pumping out of the remaining oil in the vessel's tanks... Efforts are already being made to stop the spill spreading and affecting the nearby beaches," the statement added. The meeting was attended by the Coast Guard, Dubai Municipality and the Dubai and Sharjah Electricity and Water Authorities.

"The immediate operation is to control any leakage and pump out the oil stored in the tanks to help salvage the vessel," the meeting was told. The incident was reported to the FEA and other authorities by Coast Guard teams patrolling the sea near Jebel Ali.