Currents and winds expanded the oil spill from a stranded ship off the coast of Mauritius on Sunday, as authorities and civil society worked hard to clean up and the ship made good progress in sealing gaps and emptying tanks.
Currents and wind are changing and now new areas are being polluted and this change now puts the entire east coast of the island at risk, including some of the African nation’s main natural and tourist attractions, such as Île aux Cerfs.
In the previous days, the spill was concentrated in the south-east, where the bulk carrier MV Wakashio has been stranded since 25 July, right in front of the area known as Pointe d’Esny.
During the weekend there has been a massive influx of people to help with the clean-up and the construction of retaining walls.
As a result, in the sites affected by the first wave of fuel, the situation has eased somewhat, Dowarkasing said, but much remains to be done.
The MV Wakashio is a Japanese-owned but Panamanian-registered bulk carrier sailing from China to Brazil.
At the time of the accident it was not carrying cargo, but is estimated to have been loaded with more than 200 tons of diesel and 3,800 tons of oil for its own consumption.
The crew of about twenty people was evacuated.
On Thursday, after almost two weeks with the ship stranded on the reefs about half a kilometre from land, the Mauritian Government confirmed that the ship had a breach and was spilling its fuel load into the sea, putting the nearby reefs, beaches and lagoons at serious risk.
On Friday, the Mauritian Prime Minister declared a state of environmental emergency.
The spill is already considered one of the worst crises in the history of the island, famous for its crystal-clear waters, lagoons and paradise beaches.
The affected area is a region of coral reefs that have been rehabilitated for some fifteen years and also of great marine and land diversity, with important natural reserves just a few kilometres away.
But the disaster is not only natural, but also economic, in an area where hundreds of families live from fishing and tourism, a sector that this year was already suffering from the strong impact of the coronavirus pandemic.