Mauritius declares environmental emergency as wrecked ship begins spills oil
On the 25th July, the MV Wakashio, a Japanese-owned bulk carrier operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, enroute from China via Singapore to Brazil ran aground in southern Mauritius.
Both the owners of the ship and Mautiian politicians assured residents that neccessary precautions were being taken to prevent an oil spill. However, two weeks after the ship ran aground, while waiting for tugs to arrive, the MV Wakashio began breaking up and spilling its 4,000 tonnes of oil.
A day after oil began leaking, Mauritius declared a state of "environmental emergency".
The ship ran aground near Pointe d'Esny, on the south-east coast of Mauritius, near a number of reefbreaks and on the barrier reef of a popular kite surfing lagoon. As it's on the windward coast the spilt oil is being blown onto the coastline.
"We apologise profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused," Akihiko Ono, executive vice-president of Mitsui OSK Lines said at a news conference in Tokyo on the weekend.
At least 1,000 tonnes of oil is estimated to have already leaked from the ship. 500 tonnes of oil have been salvaged from the ship, but there are still 2,500 tonnes remaining on the ship.
Japan will dispatch a six-person disaster relief team, on the request of the Mauritius Government, to help with removing the spilt oil, according to a statement by the Japanese Foreign Ministry on Sunday.
"We hope that this assistance will contribute to recovery of the environment of Mauritius and prevention of marine pollution," the statement said.
France was also sending specialist teams and equipment to Mauritius, once a French colony, to help deal with the spill.
Environmentalists fear the oil spill would endanger the marine ecology of Mautitius and its reefs and beaches.