Officials in Mauritius say they’ve offloaded nearly all the fuel that was still trapped aboard the ill-fated MV Wakashio, the Japanese-owned ship that is stranded and leaking oil into a protected marine area of the Indian Ocean island nation.
That’s according to Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth on Wednesday, as he told news outlets that about 1,000 tons has already leaked into the Pointe d’Esny waters. The Wakashio, which ran aground on July 25, began to leak last week after cracks were noted in the ship’s hull.
Mauritians quickly rose to the challenge and volunteered to help prevent damage to wildlife and key tourist areas, but it will be some time before officials assess impacts to the island ecosystem.
Environment minister Kavy Ramano asked residents to assist in laying down booms to protect the lagoons from any possible fuel spill, but he also received help from the French government. Teams and equipment including a CASA CN-235 military aircraft loaded with pollution control gear were sent from the overseas territory of Reunion Island at the weekend.
“When biodiversity is in danger, there is an urgent need to act. France is there,” said President Emmanuel Macron.
The MV Wakashio was carrying 4,000 tons of fuel oil and another 200 tons of diesel when it ran aground. The crew safely evacuated and the area quickly closed to tourists and other boat traffic.
Image: Government of Mauritius file