Mauritius disaster: It's a race against time to fix a tanker that is leaking 4,000 tons of oil
- A stranded Japanese-owned oil tanker, sailing under the Panamanian flag, has breached and is flooding waters of the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius with fuel.
- The MV Wakashio ran aground on July 25 and cracks have since emerged in the hull after strong winds battered the ship. Some of its 4,000-ton load has leaked into the ocean.
- Authorities are racing against the clock. The weather is set to worsen on Sunday, making it harder for rescue crews to plug the leak.
- Mauritius is famous for its coral reefs and abundant marine wildlife. "We are in a situation of environmental crisis," Kavy Ramano, the environment minister, said.
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Authorities are racing against the clock to secure a stranded tanker carrying 4,000 tons of oil leaking fuel into waters near a tropical Indian Ocean island.
The 300-meter MV Wakashio ran aground off the coast of Mauritius on July 25, and in the weeks since cracks have emerged in the hull after strong winds battered the ship.
"Due to the bad weather and constant pounding over the past few days, the starboard side bunker tank of the vessel has been breached and an amount of fuel oil has escaped into the sea," The Nagashiki Shipping Co, who operate the vessel, said in a statement published Friday.
The ship's location has troubled the environmental community.
The stricken vessel is located off the Pointe d'Esny, which, according to the Guardian, is an official wetland of international importance identified under the UNESCO Ramsar Convention.
Mauritius is famous for its coral reefs and abundant marine wildlife. Local wildlife groups fear that the oil slick will trap seabirds and waders.
"We are in a situation of environmental crisis," Kavy Ramano, the environment minister of Mauritius, said, according to The Associated Press (AP.)
Happy Khambule, climate and energy manager for Greenpeace Africa, said in a statement carried by the AP: "Thousands of species around the pristine lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d'Esny and Mahebourg are at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with dire consequences for Mauritius' economy, food security and health."
Mauritius asked France to send help and, on Saturday, a team of recovery experts were dispatched from the nearby French overseas department of Réunion, Agence France Presse reported.
"Our country doesn't have the skills and expertise to refloat stranded ships," Mauritius' prime minister Pravind Jugnauth said late Friday.
"I worry what could happen Sunday when the weather deteriorates."
The 20 crew members on board when the ship ran aground were rescued on July 25.
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