A ship that has leaked more than 1,000 tonnes of oil in pristine waters off the coast of Mauritius has split in two.
The Japanese-owned bulk carrier MV Wakashio ran aground on a coral reef off the southeastern coast of Mauritius on July 25 and began oozing oil more than a week later, threatening a protected marine park boasting mangrove forests and endangered species.
“It was confirmed on August 15 that the vessel has broken into two,” the ship’s operator Mitsui OSK Lines said in a statement on Sunday, noting that the information came from the vessel’s owner, Nagashiki Shipping.
Nearly all of the remaining 3,000 tonnes of oil had been pumped off the ship by that time, though there were still 90 tonnes on board, much of it residue from the leakage.
Mitsui noted on Sunday that “an amount of unrecovered oil is believed to have leaked out of the vessel”, without providing details.
Mauritius has declared an environmental emergency and thousands of Mauritians have volunteered day and night to clean the powder-blue waters that have long been a favourite among honeymooners and tourists.
The spill is an environmental and economic disaster for Mauritius, which relies heavily on tourism.
Removing the ship is likely to take months and scientists say the full impact of the spill is still unfolding, but the damage could affect Mauritius and its tourism-dependent economy for decades.