French justice officials have asked Italy for help in investigating the December 12 sinking of the Maltese-registered tanker Erika which caused a serious oil spill off France's west coast
. The French investigating magistrate reportedly sent an official request through diplomatic channels asking that Italian police verify inspections carried out by Italy's RINA maritime verification board on the vessel. The request also concerned Panship, the vessel's Ravenna-based owners, the officials said.
France has said it will unveil new maritime safety measures next month following the spill that polluted a 400 km (250 mile) stretch of its Atlantic coast, with devastating fallout for tourism and fishing.