Mauritius oil spill tanker splits apart

PHOTO: Time Magazine

A Japanese tanker ship that ran aground on a reef off the island of Mauritius last month, threatening an ecological disaster in the Indian Ocean, has broken apart, authorities said yesterday. The Mauritius National Crisis Committee said the condition of the MV Wakashio was worsening early on in the day and by the afternoon it had split. A statement issued by the committe said:

“At around 4.30pm, a major detachment of the vessel’s forward section was observed. On the basis of the experts’ advice, the towing plan is being implemented.”

The ship hit a coral reef on July 25, spilling about 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil and endangering corals, fish and other marine life in what scientists are calling the country’s worst-ever ecological disaster.

Mauritius Marine Conservation Society President Jacqueline Sauzier told Reuters that on Friday, some residual oil from the ship leaked into the ocean. Authorities dispatched booms on yesterday to help with oil absorption around the vessel. The Crisis Committee said special attention is being given to sensitive sites such as the Blue Bay Marine Park, Ile aux Aigrettes and the Pointe D’Esny National Ramsar Site.

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The weather is expected to deteriorate over the next few days with waves of up to 4.5 metres (15 feet), authorities said.

The Mauritian government said on Thursday that most of the oil from the vessel’s tanks has been pumped out, but there’s still 166 tonnes of fuel oil inside and authorities are working to remove it. Japan’s environment minister said yesterday Tokyo plans to send a team of officials from the ministry and other specialists to assess the damage.

Scientists say the full impact of the spill is still unfolding, but the damage could affect Mauritius and its tourism-dependent economy for decades.

Removing the ship is likely to take months. Former colonial ruler France has said it will help with the cleanup efforts.

SOUCES: Thai PBS World | Reuters

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