Mauritius Declares Emergency as Stranded Ship Spills Fuel

In this satellite image provided by 2020 Maxar Technologies on Friday Aug. 7 2020 an aerial view of oil leaking from the MV Wakashio a bulk carrier ship that recently ran aground off the southeast coast of Mauritius. The prime minister of Mauritius

Satellite images released on Friday showed a thick oil slick appear all around the area where the ship is now lying.

On Thursday, Mauritius said fuel was leaking for a crack in the vessel's hull and its prime minister, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, declared a state of environmental emergency and pleaded for worldwide help.

Cracks in the hull were detected a few days ago and the salvage team was quickly evacuated.

A French statement from Reunion on Saturday said a military transport aircraft was carrying pollution control equipment to Mauritius and a navy vessel with additional material would set sail for the island nation. "You can count on our support". The ship, which is thought to be Japanese but is registered in Panama, was empty when it ran aground.

The crew of the Panamanian-flagged ship the Wakashio, which ran aground, are in quarantine on the island, which is located off the east African coast, local media reported. The ship's owners were listed as the Japanese companies Okiyo Maritime Corp. and Nagashiki Shipping Co. Ltd.

The island nation, which relies on its waters for fishing and tourism has deployed around 400 sea booms, physical barriers made of metal or plastic, to slow the spread of the oil.

A police inquiry has been opened into issues such as possible negligence, one statement said.

The spokesperson of Nagashiki Shipping said Friday, "In order to reduce the impact on the environment, we have put up booms and commenced recovering the oil".

As more diesel and oil leaks into the water, it may have a catastrophic effect on Mauritius, environmental group Greenpeace Africa has said.

It added: "Nagashiki Shipping takes its environmental responsibilities extremely seriously and will take every effort with partner agencies and contractors to protect the marine environment and prevent further pollution".

A government environmental outlook released almost a decade ago said Mauritius had a National Oil Spill Contingency Plan but equipment on hand was "adequate to deal with oil spills of less than 10 metric tonnes".

According to an official statement by the country's Ministry of Environment, "The public in general, including boat operators and fishers, are requested not to venture on the beach and in the lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d'Esny and Mahebourg".

Reportedly, Réunion Island, a nearby French department in the Indian Ocean, is also assisting Mauritius clean up the spill, as the country awaits further assistance from other worldwide organizations.



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