The operator of a ship that spilled tonnes of fuel into the ocean off Mauritius, sparking an “environmental emergency”, has apologised.
Mitsui OSK Lines pledged to do “everything in its power” to aid the disaster in the Indian Ocean, where at least 1,000 tonnes of oil is estimated to have leaked.
The MV Wakashio tanker struck the reef on the southeast coast of the island nation on 25 July, and fuel began leaking from the cracked vessel on Thursday – prompting a state of environmental emergency to be declared.
Image: A man scoops leaked oil from the vessel MV Wakashio
Around 500 tonnes of oil has been salvaged from the ship, but there is still 2,500 tonnes remaining on board.
Akihiko Ono, executive vice president of Mitsui OSK Lines, told a press conference in Tokyo: “We apologise profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused.
“We will do everything in our power to resolve the issue.”
Neither Mitsui OSK Lines nor Nagashiki Shipping, the company which owns the ship, was able confirm the cost of damages from the spill.
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Japanese shipping film sorry for oil spill
Mauritius has appealed to the United Nations for urgent aid, including experts in containing oil spills.
Japan is planning to send a six-person disaster relief team, on the request of the Mauritius government, to help with removing the oil, according to a statement by the Japanese foreign ministry.
“We hope that this assistance will contribute to recovery of the environment of Mauritius and prevention of marine pollution,” the statement said.
France is also sending specialist teams and equipment to the former French colony to help.
Image: The oil spill has been dubbed a state of environmental emergency to be declared
Environmentalists fear the oil spill is the worst ecological disaster Mauritius has seen, and will endanger its marine ecology and the pristine waters that attract tourists from around the globe.
“We are in a situation of environmental crisis,” said the country’s environment minister, Kavy Ramano.
Mauritius is famous for its pristine beaches and is popular with tourists, who last year contributed 63 billion Mauritius rupees (£1.2bn) to the country’s economy.
Source : Sky News