MV Wakashio: Mauritius declares emergency as stranded ship leaks oil

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Max / EPA Series

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Satellite images show vessel leaking fuel off Mauritius


The island nation of Mauritius has declared a “state of environmental emergency” after a ship at sea began dumping oil into the ocean.

The MV Wakashio ran aground on a coral reef off the island of the Indian Ocean on July 25 and her crew were evacuated.

But the large bulk carrier has since started dumping tons of fuel into the surrounding waters.

France has pledged its support and the shipowner said he was working to tackle the spill.

Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of emergency on Friday.

He said the nation lacked “the skills and expertise to refloat stranded ships” as he called on France for help.

The French island of Reunion is located near Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Mauritius is home to world famous coral reefs and tourism is a crucial part of the national economy.

“When biodiversity is in danger, there is an urgent need to act,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on Saturday.

“France is there. Alongside the Mauritian people. You can count on our support dear Jugnauth. ”

In a separate statement, the French Embassy in Mauritius said a military plane from Réunion would bring pollution control equipment to Mauritius.

Happy Khambule of Greenpeace Africa said “thousands” of animal species were “threatened with drowning in a sea of ​​pollution, with disastrous consequences for the economy, food security and health of Mauritius”.

The vessel – owned by a Japanese company but registered in Panama – was empty when it ran aground, but had some 4,000 tonnes of fuel on board.

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Max / EPA Series

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The ship was en route from China to Brazil when it ran aground


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Max / Reuters series

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The ship has around 4000 tonnes of fuel on board


MV Wakashio is currently located at Pointe d’Esny, in a marsh area near a marine park.

In a statement, the ship’s owner, Nagashiki Shipping, said that “due to bad weather and constant blows over the past few days, the bunker tank on the starboard side of the ship was broken and a quantity of fuel oil s ‘escaped into the sea.’.

“Oil prevention measures are in place and an oil boom has been deployed around the ship,” he said.

Nagashiki Shipping added that it “takes its environmental responsibilities extremely seriously and will make every effort with partner agencies and subcontractors to protect the marine environment and avoid further pollution”.

Previously, the Environment Ministry reportedly said attempts to stabilize the ship and pump out the oil had failed due to rough seas.

“This is the first time that we have faced such a disaster and we are not sufficiently equipped to deal with this problem,” said Fisheries Minister Sudheer Maudhoo.

Police have opened an investigation into the spill.

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