A Japanese vessel from the company Mitsui OSK Lines ran aground on a reef in Mauritius and started pouring oil into the sea, on Wednesday, the 4th. The spill hit the main beaches of the African country, which is bathed by the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean and has a tourism-based economy.
Workers and volunteers were trying to prevent further oil leakage, but with strong winds and rough seas, new cracks were noted in the ship’s hull.
Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of emergency and called for international help, adding that the spill “represents a danger” for the country of 1.3 million people who depend heavily on tourism and have already been severely hampered by restrictions travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines has already apologized to Mauritius on Sunday for the ecological disaster caused by the ship, “We deeply regret the big problems we caused, the company will do everything in its power to resolve the problem“, said Akihiko Ono, executive vice president of Mitsui OSK Lines, this Sunday.
It is estimated that at least 1,000 tonnes of oil escaped from the ship in the waters of Mauritius. Approximately 500 tons of oil were extracted from the ship, but 2,500 tons still remain on the ship, with the risk of leaks at sea.
Wildlife advocates, college students, and volunteers have meanwhile transported dozens of baby turtles, other sea animals, and rare plants to safety, and according to the authorities, long floating rafts were created to try to slow down the spread of oil.
Japan has announced that it will send a rescue team of six people, at the request of the Mauritian government, to assist in the removal of spilled oil, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry released on Sunday. “We hope that this assistance will contribute to the recovery of Mauritius’ environment and the prevention of marine pollution“, said the statement.
France will also help and send teams to Mauritius to try to combat this environmental disaster.