Authorities in Egypt and Jordan are dealing with an oil spill from a ro-ro in the Red Sea.

The fuel leaked from the 190-lane-metre Flower of Sea (built 1987), polluting parts of the Aqaba coast and waters in nearby countries, Jordanian officials said on Tuesday.

The incident is believed to have occurred a week ago and oil has since been washing up on Egyptian beaches.

No information has been given about the size of the spill.

Nidal Al Majali, an official at the Aqaba Economic Zone, told the state-owned Egyptian newspaper paper Al Dustoor that government teams have been working to “isolate and remove the pollution” from the Aqaba container terminal and from other parts of the 26km coastline.

Al Majali said the spill was due to a “fault” in the fuel tanks of the vessel “while it was docking in Jordanian territorial waters”.

“The continued emergence of oil spots is due to changes in the direction and speed of the wind,” the official added.

“Some spots have been seen on the shores of neighbouring countries,” he said.

AIS data shows the Palau-flag ship’s last position on 13 August in the Gulf of Suez, heading to Aqaba.

Oil underfoot

One eye-witness reported feeling oil on his feet while kitesurfing in Jordan, but said most of the fuel appeared to have been blown by strong winds to Egypt.

“One can smell it in the water deep offshore,” he said.

A European resident in the Egyptian resort of Dahab, 100km from Aqaba across the Red Sea, said she had been seeing oil spots washed on to the shore.

Black stains

Many swimmers emerged from the sea with large black stains on their skin, she said.

“Volunteers are cleaning since a week here and they are not done,” she added. “Dahab is hardly the only place where it washed up and we don’t know if the patch in Jordan is under control.”

The vessel is listed as operated by Sea Gate Management of Egypt, which could not be contacted.

The ship has six port state control detentions on its record since 2014.

The latest was in Aqaba in December 2021.

The Flower of Sea was held for a day with 17 deficiencies.

Grounds for detention related to inoperative or inadequate fire alarms, and faults with emergency lighting.