Mauritius declared a “state of environmental emergency” after nearly 4,000 tonnes of oil spilled into the Indian Ocean when a ship ran aground.
A government statement said the Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier originally ran aground on July 25, but the National Coast Guard did not receive a distress call.
Online ship trackers have shown the MV Wakashio was traveling from China to Brazil when it ran aground on a coral reef and its crew were evacuated.
Mauritius declared a ‘state of emergency’ after nearly 4,000 tonnes of oil were spilled into the Indian Ocean when the MV Wakashio ran aground
The bulk carrier ran aground on a coral reef on July 25 and the crew were evacuated but the National Coast Guard was not contacted
Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said the oil spill posed a danger and he had to seek help from France because the island nation of 1.3 million people does not have the expertise to relaunch stranded ships.
A rescue team was dispatched to work on the ship, but was evacuated from the area after cracks were found in the ship’s hull.
Although registered in Panama, the MV Wakashio is owned by a Japanese company.
The island nation, which relies on its waters for fishing and tourism, has deployed around 400 sea barriers, physical barriers made of metal or plastic, to slow the spread of oil.
The ship is currently resting on Esny Point and a rescue team had been dispatched to work there but was evacuated when cracks were found on the ship’s hull.
Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth called on France for help as the island nation lacks the skills and expertise to get the ship afloat
In a statement, Happy Khambule, director of climate and energy for Greenpeace Africa, said: “Thousands of species around the pristine lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d’Esny and Mahebourg are at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with disastrous consequences for Mauritius. “Economy, food security and health”.
Mauritius presented a national oil spill contingency plan almost ten years ago, but it proved inadequate and provided only enough equipment for a spill of “less than”. 10 metric tons ”.
The Environment Ministry blamed rough seas and bad weather for their unsuccessful attempts to stabilize the ship and prevent the oil from spreading.
The Mauritian government said police are currently investigating the spill.
Divers in the oil-covered waters off the south-eastern coast of Mauritius try to contain the oil using a dam – a physical barrier or made of metal or plastic
About 400 sea barriers have been positioned around the MV Wakashio in an attempt to prevent the oil from spreading further.