Mauritius declares environmental emergency after oil spill

WION Web Team Port Louis, Mauritius Aug 08, 2020, 09.22 AM(IST)

Stranded MV Wakashio ship is leaking oil Photograph:( AFP )

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Mauritius has said the Japanese-owned ship, the MV Wakashio, was carrying nearly 4,000 tonnes of fuel.

The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius declared a “state of environmental emergency” late Friday after a ship that ran aground offshore days ago began spilling tonnes of fuel.

Satellite images showed a dark slick spreading in the waters near environmental areas that the government called “very sensitive.”

Mauritius has said the Japanese-owned ship, the MV Wakashio, was carrying nearly 4,000 tonnes of fuel.

Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth earlier in the day said the spill “represents a danger" for the country of some 1.3 million people that relies heavily on tourism and has been been hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
His government has appealed to France for help. France is Mauritius's “leading foreign investor” and one of its largest trading partners.

“Our country doesn’t have the skills and expertise to refloat stranded ships, so I have appealed for help from France and President Emmanuel Macron," he said. Bad weather has made it impossible to act, and “I worry what could happen Sunday when the weather deteriorates."

Online ship trackers showed the Panama-flagged bulk carrier had been en route from China to Brazil.

After the cracks in the hull were detected, a salvage team that had been working on the ship was evacuated, Ramano told reporters Thursday. Some 400 sea booms have been deployed in an effort to contain the spill.

Government statements this week said the ship ran aground July 25 and the National Coast Guard received no distress call.

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