Mauritius is facing a “state of environmental emergency” after a wrecked ship began breaking up, spilling oil into the Indian Ocean.
The vessel ran aground at Pointe d’Esny on the east of the island nation in late July, according to local media reports and environmental campaigners. This is close to the Blue Bay Marine Park reserve and a number of popular tourist beaches.
Damage to the boat has since caused it to leak out polluting waste into the surrounding area, and photographs circulating on social media appear to show thick, sticky oils coating the water and the ground.
On Friday, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency. Mauritius lies next to the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean, and Jugnauth also appealed to French President Emmanuel Macron for help on Twitter.
The Mauritian leader said “our country does not have the skills and expertise to refloat stranded ships.”
On Saturday, Macron said that France was deploying teams and equipment from Reunion Island in response.
Happy Khambule, Greenpeace Africa senior climate and energy campaign manager, warned that the bulk carrier was leaking “tonnes of diesel and oil into the ocean,” and threatening the area’s wildlife.
“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,” Khambule said in a Friday statement.
The country’s minister of the environment Kavy Ramano said on Friday: “We are in a situation of environmental crisis.”
Younous Omarjee, a member of the European Parliament from Reunion Island, told CNN that international cooperation was needed to deal with the “ecological disaster.”
“This is a serious environmental crisis and we are not yet aware of all the consequences it could have. It’s also terrible for Mauritius, whose economy is based on tourism and has already been severely impacted by the pandemic,” he told CNN.
France’s Minister of Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili announced Saturday that France is providing support to the Mauritian authorities to deal with the fuel leak.