Mauritius oil spill: PM Pravind Jugnauth declares emergency as stranded ship spills fuel worsen
Port Louis, Aug 08: Mauritius Prime Minister has declared a state of environmental emergency and appealed to France for urgent assistance as oil from a grounded cargo ship spilled unabated into the island nation's protected waters.
According to reports, rough seas have hampered efforts to stop fuel leaking from the bulk carrier MV Wakashio and is polluting pristine waters in an ecologically critical marine area off the southeast coast.
Taking to Twitter, PM Pravind Jugnauth said, "A state of environmental emergency has been declared."
The tanker was carrying 3,800 tonnes of fuel when it struck a reef at Pointe d'Esny, an internationally-listed conservation site near the turquoise waters of the Blue Bay marine park.
Meanwhile, Environment Ministry announced this week that oil had begun seeping from the hull, as volunteers rushed to the coast to prepare for the worst.
Soon, oil spilled to the coral reefs, lagoons and white-sand shores upon which Mauritius has built its reputation as a green tourism destination. Aerial images showed the scale of the damage, with huge stretches of azure seas stained inky black by the spill.
PM Jugnauth, after touring the disaster site, expressed fears the crisis could worsen with bad weather forecast over the weekend, and made an urgent appeal for help.
In a statement on Saturday, the French embassy in Mauritius said a military aircraft from the nearby French Indian Ocean island of Reunion would make two rotations over the disaster area with pollution control equipment.
Twenty crew members were evacuated safely from the ship when it ran aground on July 25.