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Oil spill in Mauritius: rush to pump out oil before the ship breaks

Shipping on Wednesday

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Jean Mary Garrett

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The oil spill has caused an environmental disaster in Mauritius

Authorities hope to pump the remaining oil out of the ship, which caused a huge oil spill off the coast of Mauritius on Wednesday.

The aim is to get the heating oil ashore before the Japanese MV Wakashio breaks up.

The ship, which was believed to have carried 4,000 tons of heating oil, ran aground on a coral reef on July 25th.

Mauritius is home to world renowned coral reefs, and tourism is a crucial part of its economy.

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The fuel was brought ashore by helicopter and onto another ship belonging to the Japanese company Nagashiki Shipping.

France has sent a military plane with pollution control equipment from its nearby Reunion Island, while Japan has dispatched a team of six to support the French effort.

The Mauritius Coast Guard and several police units are also located in the southeast of the island.

What are the authorities saying?

Police chief Khemraj Servansing told the media that the cracks in the ship “continue to widen”


“It’s hard to say when it’s going to break, but we have a boom deployment plan that the French Navy is helping with and we have made provisions for offshore booms,” he said.

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Media signatureMore than 1,000 tons of oil have spilled into waters near Mauritius

It was “very likely” that the pumping process will be completed on Wednesday, added Servansing.

“I can say that a large amount of oil has been pumped and there are 700 tons left on board,” said the police chief.

MV Wakashio ran aground in Pointe d’Esny, a well-known sanctuary for rare wildlife. The area also contains wetlands designated as Areas of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

How bad is the spill?

On Friday, the Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of emergency and asked for international help.

Since then, volunteers have also been collecting straw from fields and filling sacks to create barriers against the oil.

Others have made their own tubes of tights and hair to add to the exertion, and some have cleaned up the island’s beaches.

Their actions violated a government order to ask people to leave the cleanup to local authorities.

Greenpeace Africa has warned that “thousands of” animal species “are at risk of drowning in a sea of ​​pollution, with serious consequences for the economy, food security and health of Mauritius”.

A Mauritius oceanographer and environmental engineer, Vassen Kauppaymuthoo, told the BBC that local residents are now “breathing in heavy oil fumes” and that there is a “mixture of sadness and anger” about the spill.

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Volunteers try to limit the damage

It has also led to political accusations in Mauritius, reports Yasine Mohabuth of the BBC from the island in the Indian Ocean.

The opposition is demanding responses from the government to the oil spill, while community activists have called for the resignation of senior ministers, including Environment Minister Kavy Ramano.

Akihiko Ono, the executive vice president of ship operator Mitsui OSK Lines, has apologized “profusely” for the spill and “the major problems we caused”.

He has vowed that the company would “do everything in its power to solve the problem”.

The police in Mauritius say they have received a search warrant that allows them to take objects of interest, such as the ship’s log, with them on board the ship to help with an investigation. The ship’s captain supports the officers in their search.

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