Mauritius residents scramble to counter oil spill from grounded ship

James Marshall
August 13, 2020

Local officials, activists, and residents are anxious that it may be "too late" to contain the spill.

The blue economy is vital in Mauritius, with around a quarter of the country's GDP stemming from tourism and 10 per cent from ocean activities like fishing.

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Residents of Mauritius stuffed fabric sacks with sugar cane leaves to create makeshift oil spill barriers with endangered wildlife in further peril.

The MV Wakashio, which ran aground on a coral reef two weeks ago near the island nation off the eastern coast of Africa, already has leaked more than 1,000 tons of fuel, according to the Associated Press.

"The salvage team has observed several cracks in the ship hull, which means that we are facing a very serious situation", Jugnauth said in a televised speech, parts of which were made available to Reuters by his office.

The weather, which is also fanning the oil slick further up the coast, is not forecast to improve until evening.

Ltd., was on its way from Brazil from Singapore carrying close to 4,000 tons of fuel when it ran aground on July 25.

The vessel, which was en route to South America from China via Singapore, was carrying a total of 3,800 tons of fuel oil when it ran aground near Pointe d'Esny, an area designated as a wetland of global importance under the Ramsar Convention, which is close to Blue Bay Marine Park, another Ramsar site.

SATELLITE images have revealed the devastating extent of the Mauritius oil spill that can be seen all the way from space.

Kavy Romano, the environment minister of Mauritius, said that the state is now in an environmental crisis.

The Indian Ocean island's prime minister declared a state of emergency on Saturday and appealed for global help. Japan and France have also offered to help.

Some 500 tonnes of oil have been salvaged from the ship, but there are still 2,500 tonnes remaining on the ship. It's important to remove as much oil as possible. Despite efforts to funnel fuel out of this tank, only 50 tons or so of fuel was apparently recovered.

"I think it is already too late".

"Even if the company is not directly responsible for the accident, it will likely take steps to resolve the issue and could book some extraordinary costs", a maritime shipping analyst said.

At their first news conference since the crash, the officials said they had sent experts to Mauritius to join the cleanup effort.

Mahebourg environmental activist Ashok Subron told the AFP that thousands of volunteers "are coming together" and are "not listening to the government anymore".

Images that were shared on social media shows the dark oil from the tanker slipping into the waters of the Indian Ocean.

Police are expected to take statements from the captain and crew of the Wakashio after launching an investigation.

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