Amid environmental emergency, Mauritius oil spill expands 10 times its original size

Edited By: Palki Sharma WION
New Delhi, India Published: Aug 12, 2020, 08:55 PM(IST)

Mauritius coast Photograph:( AFP )

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On Tuesday, volunteers fished out scores of dead eels dripping in oil in a bid to skim the oil off the surface in what are considered the most pristine beaches in the Indian Ocean.

An ecological catastrophe is unfolding in Mauritius and at the centre of it is a Japanese bulk carrier which has spilt more than a 1,000 tonnes of oil into the waters of the island nation.

Mauritius avoided a second catastrophic oil spill Wednesday after salvage crews pumped the remaining fuel from the tanks of a cargo ship that ran aground off its coast.

On Tuesday, volunteers fished out scores of dead eels dripping in oil in a bid to skim the oil off the surface in what is considered the most pristine beaches in the Indian Ocean. An estimated 1,000 tonnes of oil is currently in the ocean, and more expected to flow in as the ship nears breaking point.

The country had declared a “state of environmental emergency” last week after the incident. Satellite images released showed a thick oil slick appear all around the area where the ship is currently lying.

Also see: Satellite images show MV Wakashio leaking oil off the coast of Mauritius

The latest data analysis has revealed that the oil slick has expanded 10 times its originals size spreading over 11 and a half kilometers.

Volunteers and environmentalists have intensified rescue efforts. France has dispatched a naval vessel and military aircraft to stabilise the bulk carrier and pump 4,000 tonnes of fuel from the Indian ocean.

Also read: France deploys teams to Mauritius as oil spill disaster worsens

The archipelago is preparing for the worst after the ship's operator, Mitsui Osk Lines confirmed that the crack in the ship's hull has widened. It now risks breaking into two, resulting in an environmental catastrophe.

He said "the ship is about to break and we expected. It could have broken up already last night but it's still holding. But what we've learned is that it is still been held back by only the top metal plate that covers the surface of the ship and that this is fully cracked on the sides.''

''So there are still 600 tones of heavy fuel oil inside of it. And should the ship break, we would need to be prepared to absorb all this oil,'' he added.

If sufficent and necessary measures are not taken to rectify the situation, the oil spill is bound to go out of hands.

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