Saturday, 25 March, 2023

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Oil-leaking Japanese ship splits

The troubled Japanese bulk carrier – MV Wakashio – that ran aground on a reef in Mauritius last month has broken apart.

Mauritian authorities say the ship’s condition worsened early on Saturday and it split by Saturday afternoon.

The vessel struck a coral reef on July 25, spilling about 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil and endangering corals, fish and other marine life in what some scientists have called the country’s worst ecological disaster.

“At around 4.30pm, a major detachment of the vessel’s forward section was observed. On the basis of the experts’ advice, the towing plan is being implemented.”

Mauritius National Crisis Committee

So far booms have been deployed to help with oil absorption around the vessel.

Special attention was being given to sensitive sites such as the Blue Bay Marine Park, Ile aux Aigrettes and the Pointe D’Esny National Ramsar Site.

Japanese response

Meanwhile Japan has promised to send environmental experts to assist in salvaging the Mauritius coastline from ecological tragedy.

(EDITORS NOTE: Best quality available.) The MV Wakashio bulk carrier vessel, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd., sits partially submerged in the ocean after running aground close to Pointe d’Esny, Mauritius, on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. The MV Wakashio leaked at least 1,000 tons of black sludge into the turquoise waters off the Indian Ocean islands southeastern coast after it ran aground on July 25. Photographer: Kamlesh Bhuckory/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Japanese Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi said on Saturday Tokyo planned to send a team of officials from the ministry and other specialists to assess the damage.

The MV Wakashio is owned by Japan’s Nagashiki Shipping and chartered by Mitsui OSK Lines.

Scientists say the full impact of the spill is still unfolding, but the damage could affect Mauritius and its tourism-dependent economy for decades.

Removing the ship is likely to take months. Former colonial power France has said it will assist with the cleanup.