With leaking ship breaking apart, Mauritius heading for ‘catastrophe’

When it breaks, the MV Wakashio could leak 2,500 tonnes more, of oil into the ocean

By DTE Staff
Published: Monday 10 August 2020

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:

Meanwhile, the Japanese owner of the ship apologised for the disaster in Tokyo.

Videos on social media showed the extent of the damage.

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.

Some users criticised the Mauritius government's handling of the issue.

Yet others paid tribute to the efforts by the people of Mauritius to combat the slick.

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