Environmental emergency declared in Mauritius

A state of environmental emergency has been declared by the prime minister of Mauritius as oil from a grounded cargo ship spilled unabated into the island nation’s protected waters. He has also appealed to France and United Nations for urgent assistance.

The massive oil spill caused by the bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which ran aground two weeks ago, is polluting pristine waters in an ecologically critical marine area off the southeast coast. Rough seas have hampered efforts to stop fuel leaking from. The incident has dealt a devastating blow to the local environment. Local cleanup efforts have already begun, with volunteers moving turtles, birds and other animals to safety. However, it needs action on a war-footing to minimise the ecological damage caused by the oil spill.

The tanker, belonging to a Japanese company Nagashiki Shipping was carrying 3,800 tonnes of fuel when it struck a reef at Pointe d’Esny, an internationally-listed conservation site near the turquoise waters of the Blue Bay marine park.

Mitsui O.S.K.will send experts and staffers to investigate the massive oil spill by a vessel it operated off the coast of Mauritius. More than 1,000 tons of oil has leaked from the Panama-flagged Wakashio, a bulk carrier owned by Nagashiki Shipping and chartered by Mitsui O.S.K. The full impact of the spill remains unknown. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” said Akihiko Ono, an executive vice president at Mitsui O.S.K., while briefing the media.

The leaked oil has reportedly spread far, with a portion already reaching the coast. Sea booms have been put in place to keep the oil from reaching sensitive areas.

Mauritius is an island nation off the African coast. The former French and British colony is known for its beaches and relies heavily on tourists for income, and a quick cleanup is important both environmentally and economically. French President Emmanuel Macron urged swift action to save biodiversity in a Saturday tweet.

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