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Emergency declared in Mauritius

“A ticking time bomb”- UN

Mauritius, a small island nation situated in the Indian Ocean, is now facing an unprecedented crisis and has declared an environmental emergency after satellites detected a dark slick of oil blanketing the waters around the nation.

MV Wakashio, a Japanese owned oil tanker, was on its way from China to Brazil with 4,000 tonnes of fuel, when it leaked into the serene turquoise waters of Maldives.

Due to severe weather conditions and the constant pounding of waves against the tanker, its hull was cracked open and the fuel has been leaking ever since.

On 25th July, it struck reef on the eastern coast of Mauritius, and its crew members were evacuated immediately.

Worried residents of the nearby Pointe d'Esny have started to fill gunny bags with sugar cane leaves in order to contain the leak.

While everyone wonders as to why the government didn’t act quickly to refloat the stranded ship, Mauritius’ Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said that his country doesn’t have the required expertise and skills to contain a spill of such scale. He has appealed to France and the United Nations to send in experts and necessary equipment to contain the spill.

The Mauritian Environment Ministry actually did try to stabilize the vessel and pump out the oil, but failed when faced with the rough seas.

The MV Wakashio has run aground near the Blue Bay Marine Park Reserve, close to many popular tourist beaches and pristine lagoons. Green Peace, an international environmental NGO, has warned that the leak threatens thousands of marine species and underwater ecosystems. Volunteers and wildlife enthusiasts have helped ferry baby tortoises and rare plants from a nearby island, which might become a victim of the spill.

French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to help Maldives, and is sending aid from the neighbouring island of Reunion, a French overseas territory. A military aircraft, carrying pollution control equipment, was scheduled to make two flights over the spill site, while a naval vessel from Reunion carrying absorbents would also set-sail.

The Japanese company, Nagashiki Shipping, which owns the ship has promised to help better the situation by doing everything in their power.

With a hard-hit tourism sector, declining health situation due to the coronavirus, and now the oil spill, Maldives is, as of now, on its last legs.

Reporter: Pranav M

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