India sends team to Mauritius to assist in oil spill

Remigio Civitarese
Agosto 16, 2020

The grounded Japanese ship thatleaked tons of oil near protected coral reefs off the coast of Mauritius has split apart, with remaining fuel spreading out into the Indian Ocean, officials said Saturday.

The company has said that "residual" amounts of fuel remained on the ship after pumping.

Thousands of Mauritians have volunteered day and night to clean the powder-blue waters that have always been a favourite among honeymooners and tourists.

The ship ran aground in late July at Pointe d'Esny, a known sanctuary for rare wildlife. The area also contains wetlands designated as a site of global importance by the Ramsar convention on wetlands.

This came amid fears that the MV Wakashio would break up.

The committee said booms had been reinforced near the vessel to absorb any more oil that leaked out.

The equipment is being provided by Indian Coast Guard which is the designated national authority for oil spill response in Indian waters under the NOS-DCP.

The 300 m long vessel, owned by M/s Okiyo Maritime Corp./ Nagashiki Shipping Co Ltd (a Japanese company) was sailing to Brazil with no cargo but approx 4000 metric tons of fuel for its use on board, sources said.

France and Japan have responded to the Indian Ocean island's call for help, along with thousands of Mauritians who volunteered day and night to clean sludge from powder-blue waters that have always been a favourite among honeymooners and tourists.

Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth says the operation had been a race against time.

One of the best assessments of the spill has come via Earth observation assets. "So we're all closely monitoring the situation". It found a 27 sq km spill by 11 August.

The ship sat for over a week before cracks emerged in its hull, leaking around 1,000 tons of fuel into the water and causing an environmental disaster.

Last week, Mr Jugnauth declared a state of emergency and appealed for worldwide help.

However he said the fresh oil would be captured by floating barriers stuffed with straw and stitched together by Mauritians who have rallied to aid the clean-up operation. Others have been cleaning up the island's oil-covered beaches.

There is rising anger among local people over the government's handling of the crisis.

Greenpeace Africa warned that "thousands" of animal species are "at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with dire consequences for Mauritius' economy, food security, and health".

The oil spill spawned concerns over its devastating impact on the natural environment in Mauritius including corals and wild animals.

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