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The stranded ship that pollutes the waters of Mauritius is split in two

An ecological disaster that occurred off the coast of Mauritius, where an accident caused a cargo ship to spill thousands of tons of oil into the island’s paradisiacal waters. Now, this ship has been split in two, according to the Japanese operator this Sunday.

The Japanese-owned ship broke in two and had already spilled tons of fuel into the Indian Ocean

The freighter MV Wakashio collided with a coral reef off the southern coast of Mauritius on July 25, running aground. A week later, a crack in its hull allowed oil to leak into the ocean, threatening the surrounding ecosystem.

Perhaps a bit late, the island nation of Mauritius declared an environmental emergency, joining forces with various groups and organizations to try to pump the 3,000 tons of oil that still remained in the vessel.

The polluted coast. Credit: AFP

“Yesterday, August 15, it was confirmed that the helmet had split in two,” said the operator Mitsui OSK Lines in a statement, citing information from the company that owns the boat, Nagashiki Shipping.

“This partition was caused by a crack in the cargo hold at the stern,” Mitsui clarified.

Authorities had been preparing for any circumstance for the past few days, and images taken on Saturday indicated that what happened was inevitable as the two pieces of the ship were barely holding together.

The rescue

Almost most of the remaining oil on the ship (very low sulfur fuel oil and diesel) had already been extracted at the time of the partition, however there were still 90 tons left on board, which is believed to have leaked into the waters during the latter event .

An oil leak is seen from the MV Wakashio on Tuesday, August 11. Credit: Gwendoline Defente / EMAE / AP

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“Now, a rescue team is trying to get the front two-thirds of the ship out of the sea using two tugboats, to avoid further damage to the Mauritian coast,” a police authority in the capital Port Louis told AFP, maintaining the anonymity because he was not authorized to report to the media. “The remaining portion is still stranded on the reef and how it will be removed has not been determined.”

The weather is expected to turn unfavorable in the coming days for any operation, with waves that could reach 4.5 meters in height.

Political advantage

Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has been attacked and criticized in recent weeks – especially by opposition leaders – for taking so long to act after the ship ran aground.

Volunteers make handmade barriers on the Mahébourg promenade in Mauritius on August 12. Credit: Express Maurice / AFP / Getty.

Jugnauth has promised to seek compensation from the boat owner and his insurance company. Nagashiki Shipping has responded that it will take care of the damage caused to the marine environment. Meanwhile, Japan’s environment minister Shinjiro Koizumi said he plans to dispatch a team of experts to Mauritius to assess the situation.

“We take this as a major crisis that can result in a loss of biodiversity,” Koizumi told reporters in Tokyo.

Economic disaster

Thousands of Mauritians have volunteered day and night to clean up the blue waters that have long delighted vacationers.

Volunteers carry a handmade barrier on Monday, August 10. Credit: Express Maurice / AFP / Getty

This is because the spill is both an ecological and economic disaster for the island, which is heavily dependent on tourism.

As of yesterday and as reported, the efforts of the locals had managed to remove some 800 tons of liquid oil waste and more than 300 tons of solid waste from the ocean.

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People are drilling for oil near Blue Bay Marine Park on Sunday, August 9. Credit: Daren Mauree

Source: ScienceAlert


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