Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth on Wednesday announced that efforts to cleanse the island have paid off, as salvage crews successfully pumped all the fuel from the tanks of a ship which ran aground off Mauritius.
Jugnauth said the cleanup prevented another massive oil spill into the otherwise pristine waters.
The island nation’s Ministry of Environment revealed earlier in a statement that a committee to identify how best to orchestrate the cleanup had been set up, even as the ministry warned the public to stay away from the affected area because of toxic fumes.
Recall that Jugnauth recently declared a state of environmental emergency, as the Indian ocean island battled to contain the oil spill.
Seeping in from a Japanese freighter that ran aground in July, off the coast of Mauritius, the oil had steadily damaged the quality of living in the tourist island.
The Minister further sought the help of France’s Government, saying the island cannot handle the damage alone.
Jugnauth, in a brief statement tweeted: “Our country does not have the skills and expertise to refloat stranded ships, so I asked for help from France,” tagging French President Emmanuel Macron.
Photographs from the air showed the oil slick spreading through the turquoise waters surrounding the island. Other images in local L’Express newspaper showed blackened beaches and dead marine life.
Deborah de Chazal, executive director of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, which is working with the government to address the disaster, said the boat was carrying 4,000 tons of oil.
The crew of the Panamanian-flagged ship are now in quarantine on the island that sits off the east African coast, local media reported.
The freighter, owned by Nagashiki Shipping in Okayama, Japan, was en route to Brazil from Singapore.
“In order to prevent an adverse environmental impact as much as possible, we have put up a fence and started recovering the oil,” a company official is reported to have said.
“The cause [of the accident] is under investigation,” Yoshinori Fukushima, a public relations official for Nagashiki Shipping, said.