Emergency declared in Mauritius as stranded ship leaks oil

Satellite images show the vessel leaking fuel off Mauritius. Photo by Reuters

Mauritius, East Africa — A state of environmental emergency is declared in the island nation Mauritius due to the leakage of oil into the ocean from a stranded ship.

The large bulk carrier, MV Wakashio ran aground on a coral reef off the Indian Ocean island on 25 July and its crew was evacuated. It has ever since begun leaking tons of fuel into the surrounding waters.

The Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth declared the state of emergency later on Friday.

The ship’s owner said that they are working to combat the spill and that France has pledged to support as well. The Prime Minister said that the nation did not have “the skills and expertise to refloat stranded ships,” when he appealed to France for help.

The French island of Reunion lies in the Indian Ocean near Mauritius. Mauritius is a home to world-renowned coral reefs, and tourism is a crucial part of the nation’s economy.

“When biodiversity is in peril, there is urgency to act,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on Saturday.

“France is there. Alongside the people of Mauritius. You can count on our support dear Jugnauth.”

The vessel has some 4,000 tonnes of fuel on board. Photo by Reuters

The ship that is owned by Japanese company, but, registered in Panama had upto almost 4,000 tonnes of fuel aboard.

“This is the first time that we are faced with a catastrophe of this kind, and we are insufficiently equipped to handle this problem,” Fishing Minister Sudheer Maudhoo said.