Mauritius Scrambles to Prevent Environmental Disaster

Mauritius Scrambles to Prevent Environmental Disaster

MV Wakashio ran aground on a coral reef off the Indian Ocean island on 25 July. High winds and waves are now pounding the stranded vessel as it is showing signs of splitting apart.

Aerial images show the enormity of the disaster, with huge stretches of crystal-clear seas around the marooned cargo ship stained a deep inky black.

"We are expecting the worst", Mauritian Wildlife Foundation manager Jean Hugues Gardenne said.

At least 1,000 tonnes of oil is estimated to have leaked, with 500 tonnes salvaged and some 2,500 tonnes remaining.

Additionally, helicopters have been deployed to transfer containers of fuel oil removed from the site.

It is reported that the tanker is carrying around 4,000 tons of fuel.

"We should prepare for a worst case scenario".

© Provided by CBS News A man scoops leaked oil from the vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius on August 8, 2020. A French naval vessel with technical advisers aboard arrived Sunday from nearby Reunion, a French Indian Ocean island. France sent a navy ship, military aircraft and technical advisers after Mauritius appealed for global help Friday, while Japan said it would send a six-member expert team to assist.

"The coral reefs had begun to regenerate and the lagoon was getting back its coral gardens", environmentalist and former politician Sunil Dowarkasing said. "The cracks have now reached the base of the ship and there is still a lot of fuel on the ship".

"Nagashiki Shipping deeply apologises to the people of Mauritius and will do their utmost protect the environment and mitigate the effects of the pollution", the Wakashio's owner said in a statement on Monday.

It is also close to popular holiday beaches at Pointe d'Esny near the town of Mahebourg on the east side of the island. "A hose connection has been successfully established. and the transfer of fuel oil is underway", said the company in a statement.

On the shore, volunteers have been using empty oil drums to collect fuel which has already floated into the shallower waters.

The nation's Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared the spill an "environmental emergency" and call for worldwide help to help contain the damage.

The island's environment minister Kavy Ramano, together with the fisheries minister, told the press that it was the first time that the country faced a catastrophe of this magnitude and that they were insufficiently equipped to handle the problem.

Their actions went against an order from the government asking people to leave the clean-up to local authorities.

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