Mauritius oil spill: Wrecked MV Wakashio breaks up

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By BBC Africa

A Japanese bulk carrier that has leaked hundreds of tonnes of fuel oil off the Mauritius coast has broken apart, authorities in the island nation say.

The MV Wakashio ran aground on a coral reef on 25 July with 4,000 tonnes of the fuel, causing an ecological emergency.

Most of the fuel had already been pumped out, officials said, but on Saturday the ship's condition worsened.

Mauritius is home to world-renowned coral reefs, and popular with tourists.

The MV Wakashio ran aground at Pointe d'Esny, a known sanctuary for rare wildlife. The area also contains wetlands designated as a site of international importance by the Ramsar convention on wetlands.

"At around 4.30pm [12:30 GMT], a major detachment of the vessel's forward section was observed," the Mauritius National Crisis Committee said in a statement on Saturday.

About 90 tonnes of the fuel were believed to be still on board when the vessel split.

The committee said booms had been reinforced near the vessel to absorb any more oil that leaked out. Coast guard vessels have been positioned in the area.

Mauritius has said it will seek compensation for the leak from "the owner and the insurer". Japanese firm Nagashiki Shipping has pledged to respond to requests for compensation.

Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said in recent days that more than 3,000 of the 4,000 tonnes of oil from the ship's fuel reservoirs had been pumped out.

The removed fuel has been transferred to shore by helicopter and to another ship owned by the same Japanese firm.

 

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