UNITED NATIONS, July 13 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations is preparing a team to assess a neglected tanker off Yemen to avoid a possible catastrophic spill of 1.1 million barrels of crude oil, a UN spokesman said on Monday.
"The local de facto authorities in Yemen have officially communicated to the UN their approval for an UN-led technical assessment and repair mission onboard the Safer oil tanker off the coast of Ras Issa," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The "local de facto authorities" refer to the Houthi rebels controlling much of the embattled country's northern area.
"We are working to ensure the technical team can deploy as soon as possible to assess the condition of the tanker and undertake initial repairs," Dujarric told a virtual briefing.
After the assessment, and feasible light repairs, members of the team are to advise on any remaining measures that would be needed to avoid an oil spill, which would be catastrophic for Yemeni communities, the Red Sea environment, bordering countries and their communities, as well as international maritime traffic, he said.
At the end of May, water reportedly entered the engine room of the permanently anchored tanker, which could have led to disaster, but a temporary fix was applied at that time.
The tanker had served as a floating oil storage and offloading vessel that is moored in the Red Sea before most of the crew deserted it after the Houthi rebels took over the area about five years ago.
On Wednesday, the Security Council is scheduled to hold a meeting on the issue, the spokesman said on Friday.