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Mauritius oil spill: Teams scramble to pump out bunker fuel on wrecked ship

11 August 2020 11:45 AM
Tags:
Oil spill
Mauritius oil spill
ecological crisis

It's a race against time for authorities in Mauritius who fear that a damaged Japanese cargo ship leaking oil into the Indian Ocean could lead to an ecological catastrophe.

Fuel has been spilling from a Japanese bulk carrier, the MV Wakashio, after it ran aground on a coral reef in Mauritius two weeks ago.

It's reported that large cracks have appeared in the hull of a cargo ship which was carrying nearly 4,000 tonnes of fuel oil when it struck a reef on 25 July.

About 1,000 tonnes of oil have already leaked into the Indian Ocean and there are growing fears that the damaged vessel may break apart.

Mukhtar Joonas, the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Mauritius in Cape Town, says salvage teams are aiming to offload the remaining bunker fuel onboard the vessel by Wednesday.

However, Joonas says efforts are being hampered by bad weather conditions.

Joonas, who spoke to Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth on Tuesday, says all hands are on deck to curtail the ecological damage of the oil spill.

The prime minister declared a state of emergency late last week. Over the weekend, panicked Mauritian residents used sugar cane leaves to create makeshift barriers in an effort to contain the oil spill.

Mauritius has received international aid from countries around the world rushing to help the island nation.

France, India, Japan and South Africa are some of the countries that joined the salvage effort, Joonas tells CapeTalk.

We've received help from Japan and France. They are going to be able to pump out the rest of the bunker by tomorrow but there's bad weather coming in.

Mukhtar Joonas, Honorary Consul General of Mauritius

They fear that more oil will be spilled before they have a chance to pump the whole thing out.

Mukhtar Joonas, Honorary Consul General of Mauritius

Aerial images showed a dark slick spreading in the waters.

Dr Vikash Tatayah, the Conservation Director at the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, describes the oil spill as "the most serious ecological disaster that Mauritius has known."

The environmentalist says the spill has threatened thousands of species, including island ecosystems and marine life that is already endangered.

It is the most serious ecological disaster that Mauritius has known.

Dr Vikash Tatayah, Conservation Director - Mauritian Wildlife Foundation

Listen to Dr. Vikash Tatayah in conversation with Mike Wills:


11 August 2020 11:45 AM
Tags:
Oil spill
Mauritius oil spill
ecological crisis

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