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Japanese cargo ship splits apart after oil spilling off Mauritian coast

Japanese cargo ship splits apart after oil spilling off Mauritian coast

Posted August. 17, 2020 07:46,   

Updated August. 17, 2020 07:46


The Nagashiki Shipping Co.-owned vessel, which ran around last month and spilled oil off the coast of Mauritius, split apart after all, causing mounting damage to the island nation in the Indian Ocean. There is growing criticism after news reports said that the ship had approached land to gain wireless Internet access, before running aground.

According to Reuters, the National Crisis Committee of Mauritius said Saturday, “At around 4:30 p.m., a major detachment of the ship’s forward section was found and work has started to tow the forward section.” As for the backward section of the ship, the committee will determine whether and when to tow after conducting an investigation.

The Japanese cargo ship MV Wakashio ran around on coral reef off the southeastern coast of Mauritius on July 25 when the ship was en route from China to Brazil. At the time, the ship leaked about 1,000 tons of crude oil, polluting the pristine coast of Mauritius, famous for Indian Ocean lagoons. Since then, Mauritians, international environmental groups, and environmental experts from Japan have been engaged in massive clean-up operations.

As the ship has completely split apart amid the situation, damage from oil spill in Mauritius is poised to escalate further. Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said last Monday that there were no more oil spills, but more spilling could happen when the ship broke up, and the situation has turned from bad to worse just in one week.

The ship's operator Mitsui O.S.K. Lines said it removed some 3,000 tons of crude oil that remained in the ship by dispatching its workers right after the oil spills. However, citing Mauritian government sources, Reuters said 166 tons of fuel oil still remains within the ship, which could cause additional damage.

Some critics say that the accident was man-made. Citing local media outlets in Mauritius, the Japanese broadcaster ANN said Friday, “Before the ship ran aground on July 25, a birthday party for a crew member was held in the ship.”

Hyun-Seok Lim lhs@donga.com