Salvors have managed to halt the worst of the spill from the grounded Wakashio bulk carrier off the south coast of Mauritius but authorities concede there is now a very strong possibility the 203,000 dwt Panama-flagged ship will break up soon as cracks in its hull widen.
More than 1,000 tonnes of bunker fuel have seeped from the bulk carrier in and around UNESCO protected reef sites and the ship, which ran aground on July 25 while not following local navigational guidelines, still has around 2,000 tonnes of fuel onboard.
We should prepare for a worst-case scenario. It is clear that at some point the ship will fall apart
Locals have responded to the crisis by making their own homemade oil booms, while the government has come under intense pressure for its slow response to the environmental catastrophe and the island’s lack of oil spill response infrastructure. France is also sending much needed equipment while crowdfunding sites have emerged to try and help with the disaster.
The 300 m long ship is owned by Japan’s Nagashiki Shipping and on charter to Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL). It is insured by Japan P&I Club.
“We confirmed that the crack inside the hull of the ship had expanded. Since this ship is unable to navigate by itself, it is moored to a tugboat so that it will not drift even if it is broken,” MOL stated in a release today.
“The salvage team has observed several cracks in the ship hull, which means that we are facing a very serious situation,” prime minister Pravind Jugnauth said in a televised speech last night. “We should prepare for a worst-case scenario. It is clear that at some point the ship will fall apart,” Jugnauth added.