The Government of the Republic of Mauritius, an African archipelago located in the Indian Ocean and famous for its paradisiacal beaches visited by thousands of travelers every year, declared a state of environmental emergency on Friday due to the oil and gas oil spill from a ship that it was loaded with 4,000 tons of fuel. The cargo ship ran aground in the southeast of its main island, also called Mauritius, and threatens both its biodiversity and its main economic sector, tourism.
The Mauritian Prime Minister, Pravind Jugnauth, requested help from the French Government, the closest country since in the same area is the island of Reunion, a Gallic overseas territory, because, as he told the media, “this shipwreck is a danger for Mauricio, who has neither the experience nor the resources to tow boats in trouble ”. French President Emmanuel Macron reported this Saturday via Twitter about the shipment of equipment and material. “When biodiversity is in danger, it is urgent to react. France is there. Together with the Mauritian people ”, he said through Twitter.
The authorities of the African country confirmed that a tactical transport plane of the French Army from the island of Reunion was scheduled to take off this Saturday to Mauritius with anti-pollution material, specifically marine barriers to contain spills. A French Navy liaison officer will also travel on board.
The 300-meter-long freighter called MV Wakashio is Japanese-owned but sailed under the Panamanian flag. On July 25, it ran aground on a reef in the southeast of Mauritius, off the area known as Pointe d’Esny, when it was heading from China to Brazil loaded with 4,000 tons of fuel, about 3,800 of oil and 200 of diesel. Its 20 crew members were successfully evacuated, but the operations to extract the fuel with a helicopter and to place a containment net carried out by the shipping company Mitsui OSK Lines, which owns the ship, were frustrated by bad weather.
This week, the Government of Mauritius detected the existence of leaks and a spill that affected the nearby beach. For Greenpeace, it is “one of the worst environmental crises that this small island country has suffered.” Happy Kambuel, Head of Climate and Energy of the environmental organization in Africa, ensures that tons of diesel and oil are being spilled into the ocean. “Thousands of species that live in the virgin lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d’Esny and Mahebourg run the risk of drowning in a sea of pollution with serious consequences for the economy, food security and health,” he said in a statement.