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Japan Ramps Up Aid To Mauritius After Oil Spill

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An aerial view taken in Mauritius on August 17, 2020, shows the MV Wakashio bulk carrier, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that had run aground and broke into two parts near Blue Bay Marine Park. (Photo by – / AFP)

 

 

Japan is sending a second team of experts to help clean up more than 1,000 tonnes of oil that leaked from a Japanese-owned bulk carrier into pristine waters off the coast of Mauritius.

The decision came as the Mauritian government vowed to seek compensation from the ship’s owner and insurer for “all losses and damages” related to the disaster.

Tokyo has already dispatched one team of six experts, including a coast guard expert and diplomats, to aid in the response.

The new team of seven experts is due to leave Japan on Wednesday and will carry materials such as a sorbent to help clean up the oil, Japan’s embassy in Mauritius said in a statement Monday.

 

This August 12, 2020, handout satellite image obtained courtesy of Maxar Technologies shows the MV Wahashio shipwreck off the southeast coast of Mauritius. Handout / Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies / AFP
This August 12, 2020, handout satellite image obtained courtesy of Maxar Technologies shows the MV Wahashio shipwreck off the southeast coast of Mauritius. Handout / Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies / AFP

“The oil spill has caused serious damage over the South East coastal environment of Mauritius and will have an inevitable impact on the country’s tourism industry as well,” the statement said.

“Japan has decided to dispatch the team out of comprehensive and holistic consideration of all circumstances, including the request of urgent assistance from the Government of the Republic of Mauritius and the friendly relationship between the two countries,” it said.

The MV Wakashio ran aground on a coral reef on July 25 and began oozing oil more than a week later.

Both the Mauritian and Japanese governments have come under fire for not doing more immediately to prevent a large-scale spill.

Japanese firm Nagashiki, the ship’s owner, has pledged to “sincerely” respond to requests for compensation over damage to the marine environment.

The ship split in half over the weekend, and a portion of it remains stranded on the reef.

Thousands of Mauritians volunteered day and night to clean the powder-blue waters that have long attracted honeymooners and tourists before the clean-up operation was fully handed over to experts.

Greenpeace has termed the spill the “worst ecological disaster” in the country’s history, threatening wetlands that boast rare mangrove forests and scores of fish and coral species.

Japan is not the only country to send aid.

A 10-member team from India’s coast guard arrived in Mauritius on Sunday with 28 tonnes of equipment including booms, barges and skimmers.

And on Monday, Sebastien Lecornu, France’s minister for overseas territories, said Paris would send three experts to help Mauritius determine what to do with the wreck.

France had already sent military planes, ships and equipment to help contain the oil spill, which also threatens the French island of La Reunion southwest of Mauritius.

AFP

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