Call for immediate action: Ship leaks more oil off Mauritius coast

Port Louis: A fresh streak of oil spilled Friday from a ship stranded on a reef in pristine waters off Mauritius, threatening further ecological devastation as demands mount for answers as to why the vessel had come so close to shore.

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The Japanese-owned MV Wakashio ran aground on a coral reef on July 25 and a week later began leaking over 1,000 tonnes of oil into a protected marine park boasting mangrove forests and endangered species.

Mauritius declared an unprecedented environmental emergency last week.

France and Japan have responded to the Indian Ocean island’s call for help, along with thousands of Mauritians who volunteered day and night to clean sludge from powder-blue waters that have long been a favourite among honeymooners and tourists.

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Salvage crews raced against the clock, with the boat threatening to split in two, to pump almost 3,000 tonnes of remaining fuel off the boat.

While the boat’s reservoirs were successfully emptied on Wednesday, preventing further devastation, some of the remaining 100 tonnes of oil from the cargo hold began to leak on Friday, according to a statement from the national crisis committee on the disaster.

“According to experts this kind of leakage was expected and is due to the bending and twisting of the vessel,” said the statement.

Fisherman Alain Francois said earlier Friday that “the water has again turned black” around the ship.

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The crisis committee statement said additional booms and equipment had been deployed to contain the spill, and would be joined by a new skimmer vessel soon.

So far more than 700 tonnes of oil liquid waste and 260 tonnes of solid waste sludge and debris has been removed from the ocean.

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