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Major oil spill off Mauritius Island

The island of Mauritius is facing an environmental catastrophe after oil began leaking from a grounded vessel. Mauritius on Thursday announced that oil was leaking from the bulk carrier WAKASHIO that had run aground in the southeast of the island in late July. The ship had no payload at the time but was carrying over 200 tonnes of diesel and more than 3,800 tonnes of low-sulfur bunker fuel oil. The bulk carrier began to breach, releasing some of the bunker fuel. Boom is in place to prevent the oil from spreading but all efforts to stabilise the vessel and pump up the oil failed so far due to bad weather conditions. "The public in general, including boat operators and fishers, are requested not to venture on the beach and in the lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d’Esny and Mahebourg,” the environment ministry of Mauritius said in a statement. Officials launched an investigation. The grounding happened at Pointe d'Esny, which is listed under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, and near the marine park of Blue Bay. Ecologists fear the ship could break up, which would cause an even greater leak and damage the island's coastline. The country depends crucially on its seas for food and for tourism, boasting some of the finest coral reefs in the world. The WAKASHIO is a 203,130 deadweight tonnes bulk carrier measuring 300 meters in length. It is registered in Panama. The WAKASHIO was built in 2007 by Universal Shipbuilding in Kawasaki, Japan. It is managed by Okiyo Maritime / Nagashiki Shipping of Japan.

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