Mauritius oil spill: Grounded ship breaks into two

The grounded Japanese ship that leaked tons of oil near protected areas of the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius has split into two, with its remaining fuel spreading into the turquoise waters, BBC reported last Sunday

 Photos posted online by the official cleanup effort with the support of the environment ministry show the ship in two pieces, “and the tugboats are already at work.” 

Most of the fuel had already been pumped out, officials said, but on Saturday the ship’s condition worsened.

Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said in recent days that more than 3,000 of the 4,000 tonnes of oil from the ship’s fuel reservoirs had been pumped out. But More than 1,000 tonnes of oil has leaked into waters near Mauritius

The removed fuel has been transferred to shore by helicopter and to another ship owned by the same Japanese firm.One of the best assessments of the spill has come via Earth observation assets.

The US analytics company Ursa Space Systems looked at the situation using radar data from the Finnish Iceye satellites, which are especially effective at picking out oil on water. It found a 27 sq km spill by 11 August.

BBC World Service says a spill three times the size of this was averted. Nevertheless, a uniquely biodiversity-rich marine ecosystem has been polluted with nearly 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil. Last week,  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’s 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.

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