The anxious inhabitants of the island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean stuffed cloth sacks with sugar cane leaves to create temporary barriers to oil spills as tons of fuel leaked from a ship on the ground endangering wildlife. add danger.
The government on Saturday declared a state of environmental emergency as satellite images showed a spreading black speck in turquoise waters near swampy areas that the government called “very sensitive” .
Wildlife workers and volunteers transported dozens of baby turtles and rare plant species from the island near the spillway, Ile aux Aigrettes, into the mainland out of fear of worsening weather on Sunday could tear the Japanese owned ship along the cracked hull.
Residents and environmentalists are both wondering why authorities failed to act faster after the MV Wakashio crashed into a reef on the southeast coast of the Indian Ocean island on July 25. .
Mauritius says the ship carries nearly 4,000 tons of fuel.
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“It’s a big question,” Jean Hugues Gardenne of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation told The Associated Press. “Why did that ship sit on that reef so long and do nothing.”
This was the country’s first oil spill, he said, adding that perhaps no one was expecting the ship to break. For several days, residents stared at the precariously tilted ship when a rescue team arrived and began work, but the waves repeatedly beat the carrier.
“They just hit and hit and hit,” said Gardenne.
Hull cracks were discovered a few days ago and the salvage team was quickly evacuated. About 400 ships were deployed to prevent the oil spill, but not enough.
Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said the spill “is a danger” for a country of 1.3 million people heavily dependent on tourism and has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our country does not have the skills and expertise to refit stranded ships,” he said. “I worry what might happen on Sunday when the weather gets worse.”
France to send help
French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday announced his country had sent help from the neighboring island of Reunion, a French overseas territory.
Authorities in Reunion said a Reunion military aircraft carrying pollution control equipment would make two flights over the spill site, while a naval ship carrying a lift and sorbent as well. will set sail.
“When biodiversity is threatened, urgent action is needed,” Macron said. “You can count on our support.”
The Green Peace Organization said that the fuel and oil that leaked into nearby lagoons threatened the existence of thousands of species that were “at risk of drowning in polluted seas”.
The spill near Pointe d’Esny could be “one of the most terrible ecological crises ever seen on the tiny island nation,” the environmental group said in a statement.
Greenpeace’s director of climate and energy, Happy, said: “Thousands of species around the pristine lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d’Esny and Mahebourg are at risk of drowning in polluted seas, causing consequences. critical to Mauritius’s economy, food security and health. Khambule.
The country has also called on the United Nations for emergency aid, including experts on oil spill prevention and environmental protection.