France tries to contain 9km-long fuel spill off coast

French authorities are working to contain a fuel spill off the Atlantic coast after an Italian container ship sank following a fire.

French and British rescue teams saved all 27 people on board the Grande America after it sank on Tuesday, according to a French government statement.

Images released today by the French navy showed flames and plumes of black smoke spewing from the ship as it listed sharply.

The Grande America vessel on fire off the west coast of France (Marine Nationale via AP)

The regional maritime authority said the ship has since leaked fuel over an area of about 9kms long.

The ship was carrying about 2,200 tons of fuel before the accident, a French government minister said.

France has reached out to the European Maritime Security Agency for help using satellites to locate leaks.

The ship sank about 200 miles west of the French city of La Rochelle, while en route from Hamburg to Casablanca.

The regional prosecutor has opened an investigation and France has issued a formal warning to the ship’s operator to assess the damage and help prevent more leaking.

- Press Association

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