When it breaks, the MV Wakashio could leak 2,500 tonnes more, of oil into the ocean
The island country of Mauritius could be heading towards catastrophe as a ship grounded off its coast and leaking oil since the past few days, is about to break apart, the prime minister has warned.
The MV Wakashio, a Japanese-owned and Panama-registered ship, that was travelling from China to Brazil, ran aground a reef at Pointe d’Esny in the southeastern part of Mauritius on July 25, 2020.
A crack in the ship’s hull caused it to leak in the past week. The ship was carrying 4,000 tonnes of fuel oil, of which more than 1,000 tonnes has already leaked into the ocean.
Now, the remaining 2,500 tonnes remaining on board the vessel threatens to leak as well as the ship is breaking apart.
“The cracks have grown. The situation is even worse,” Pravind Jugnauth, the Prime Minister of Mauritius was quoted as saying by international news agency, AFP. “The risk of the boat breaking in half still exists,” he added.
Photographs circulating on social media have shown volunteers working hard to remove the oil slick in the area.
The slick is now drifting further up the coast, aided by strong winds and currents, AFP said in its report.
International help has been slow come by although Jugnauth had appealed last week, saying his country did not have the wherewithal to combat the disaster.
France, to whom Jugnauth appealed first, has sent a naval vessel, a military aircraft and technical advisers from Reunion Island, which it governs.
Japan will be sending a six-member team of experts to assist Mauritius.
Among those who tweeted about the disaster was British Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn:
Shocked at oil spill in Mauritius, where an environmental emergency has been declared.— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) August 9, 2020
There must be a massive international response to support the clean up. pic.twitter.com/RabTWXKze0
Meanwhile, the Japanese owner of the ship apologised for the disaster in Tokyo.
Videos on social media showed the extent of the damage.
WATCH: Aerial footage shows oil spill near the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 9, 2020
The government of Mauritius declared a “state of environmental emergency” late Friday as coastal areas including an island nature reserve face an ecological disaster. https://t.co/bCRj3HNhn4 pic.twitter.com/iJjaskFCc6
Mauritius declared the disaster an environmental agency last week. The country is world-renowned for its white sand beaches, pristine lagoons and coral reefs and its economy is primarily sustained by tourism.
⚠️PLEASE SHARE AS WE MUST GET MORE HELP FOR MAURITIUS!⚠️ This oil spill is happening now in Mauritius as their coastline is covered in thick black oil, killing all wildlife & marine life in its path, but they're ill-equipped for the cleanup SO please retweet/let's get them help! pic.twitter.com/KB7L22qoYz— Karmagawa (@karmagawa) August 9, 2020
Some users criticised the Mauritius government's handling of the issue.
Oil Spill in Mauritius just now. Japanese Tanker was stuck on the reef there for several days/weeks. Despite public worry and outcry, the gov in place assured that it was empty and did nothing. Now its too late. The Blue Bay marine park ecosystem in grave danger. @BBCWorld pic.twitter.com/fTQkwENNvy— pitioupatow (@Maxwell_005) August 6, 2020
Yet others paid tribute to the efforts by the people of Mauritius to combat the slick.
The #oilspill is devastating but I want to honour the community mobilisation at the Mahebourg waterfront today (to make containment booms) and every other Mauritian mobilising resources behind the scenes. Hats off et Merci. #Mauritius #Wakashio pic.twitter.com/4nJfrVn1Zm— Fabiola Monty (@LFabiolaMonty) August 7, 2020
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