Last week on July 25, we reported how the Japanese-owned and Panama-registered MV Wakashio ship grounded on the beautiful coral reefs of the tropical island of Mauritius. The ship sat there for over a week before cracks appeared in its hull and an estimated 200 tons (181 tonnes) of diesel and 2,800 tons (2,540 tonnes) of heavy fuel oil on board started to spill.
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On August 7, the government declared the incident a national emergency and citizens did everything they could think of to contain the damage of the spill, including cutting their hair off and donating it to soak in the oil. Now, it seems the ship has broken in two which is likely to lead to even more oil spill in the area.
The incident happened on Saturday afternoon, "At around 4.30pm, a major detachment of the vessel's forward section was observed," the Mauritius National Crisis Committee said in a statement, and added, "On the basis of the experts' advice, the towing plan is being implemented."
France 24 reported that most of the oil from the vessel had been pumped out by Thursday, but there was still 182 tons (166 tonnes) of fuel oil remaining inside the broken ship. Authorities are working hard against time and nature to remove it before it spills any further.
Japanese Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi also revealed on Saturday that a team of specialists would be sent to the island to assess the damage since the ship is Japanese-owned. The full impact of the damage has yet to be precisely estimated as the situation is still unfolding.
However, experts have warned that the spill could affect the island nation for many years. Mauritius is known for its beautiful beaches, lagoons, and reefs that attract much tourism during the year.
Tourism and fishing are the main livelihoods of the country's people and this oil spill is detrimental to both. Scientists call this incident the country's worst ecological disaster to date.