Mauritius oil spill: Almost all fuel oil pumped out of MV Wakashio

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Almost all the fuel oil from the Japanese-owned ship that has caused a huge oil spill off the coast of Mauritius has been pumped out, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has said.

The operation had been a race against time, he added, amid fears that the MV Wakashio would break up.

The ship, believed to have been carrying 4,000 tonnes of fuel oil, ran aground on a coral reef on 25 July.

Mauritius is home to world-renowned coral reefs, and popular with tourists.

The fuel has been transferred to shore by helicopter and to another ship owned by the same Japanese firm, Nagashiki Shipping.

France has sent a military aircraft with pollution-control equipment from its nearby island of Réunion, while Japan has sent a six-member team to assist the French efforts.

The Mauritius coast guard and several police units are also at the site in the south-east of the island.

Mr Jugnauth said more than 3,000 of the 4,000 tonnes of oil from the ship’s fuel reservoirs had been pumped out. A small amount remained on board elsewhere.

Police spokesperson Shiva Cooten said they “still have work to do but the situation is all under control”.

Earlier, police chief Khemraj Servansing said that cracks in the ship “keep increasing”.

“It is difficult to say when it will break but we have a boom deployment plan with the French Navy helping and we have made provisions for high sea booms,” he said.

The MV Wakashio ran aground at Pointe d’Esny, a known sanctuary for rare wildlife. The area also contains wetlands designated as a site of international importance by the Ramsar convention on wetlands.

How bad is the spillage?

On Friday, Mr Jugnauth declared a state of emergency and appealed for international help.

Since then, volunteers have also been collecting straw from fields and filling sacks to make barriers against the oil.

Others have made their own tubes with tights and hair to add to the effort, and some have been cleaning up the island’s beaches.

Their actions went against an order from the government asking people to leave the clean-up to local authorities.

Greenpeace Africa has warned that “thousands” of animal species were “at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with dire consequences for Mauritius’ economy, food security and health”.

An oceanographer and environmental engineer in Mauritius, Vassen Kauppaymuthoo, told the BBC that local residents were now “breathing heavy vapours of oil”, and there was a “mixture of sadness and anger” over the spill.

Source: BBC

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