Event Report

Base data

Event code EN-CHE/01534/MUS
Main category Environment Pollution
Sub category chemical
Event date (UTC) Fri, 07 Aug 2020 08:57:19 +0000
Last update (UTC) Tue, 25 Aug 2020 12:36:21 +0000


Continent Indian Ocean
Country Mauritius
Administration area Multiple location
Exact location Lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d'Esny and Mahebourg
Open Location Code: 5HFVGQW2+W8
Size of affected area County-level
Additional events None or not detected.

Common Alerting Protocol Information

Urgency Past
Certainty Observed
Severity Extreme
Category Env

Event details

Mauritius announced oil is leaking from a bulk carrier that ran aground in the southeast of the island, igniting fears of an environmental catastrophe. "The ministry has been informed ... that there is a breach in the vessel MV Wakashio and there is a leakage of oil," the environment ministry said in a statement on Thursday. "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 carrier, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, ran aground on July 25 and its crew was evacuated safely. The ship was carrying 200 tonnes of diesel and 3,800 tonnes of bunker fuel, according to the local press. 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. Anti-pollution systems have been sent to the two sites, the ministry said, adding the government was asking the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion for assistance. "We are in an environmental crisis situation," Environment Minister Kavy Ramano told a news conference. Shipping websites say the Wakashio was built in 2007 with a gross tonnage of 101,000 and deadweight tonnage of 203,000, and a length of 300 meters (984 feet). "This is the first time that we are faced with a catastrophe of this kind, and we are insufficiently equipped to handle this problem," said Fishing Minister Sudheer Maudhoo. The ministers said all attempts to stabilize the ship had failed because of rough seas, and efforts to pump out the oil also failed. Ecologists fear the ship could break up, which would cause an even greater leak and inflict potentially catastrophic damage on 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.

Situation update

A Japanese disaster relief team said Tuesday the oil spilled from a grounded Japanese freighter off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean could kill mangroves if it is not cleaned up soon. The team composed of seven members, including five environment experts, has been conducting an on-site probe of the damage to the environment, especially the mangrove forests and coral reefs, since Friday, while providing on-site environment assistance to the Mauritius government. "In the heavily polluted areas, oil adhesion to pneumatophores (or aerial roots) can suffocate mangroves to death. Also, if the oil stays for long, its toxic substances can kill mangroves," Noriaki Sakaguchi, vice team leader and an ecosystem conservation expert at Japan International Cooperation Agency, said in an online briefing. While no dead or dying mangroves have been found so far, the team said oil coating on the pneumatophores of mangroves has been confirmed in all seven surveyed locations, with a wide area of damage found in two sites. Clearing oil from mangrove forests in a muddy environment, instead of a rocky one, is particularly difficult as the removal work may allow deeper penetration of the oil beneath the forests, according to the team. The group will start assessing the impact of oil spill on the Ramsar wetlands near the accident site on Thursday. The bulk carrier Wakashio transporting a total of some 3,800 tons of fuel oil and 200 tons of diesel, operated by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., ran aground near Pointe d'Esny on July 25, and more than 1,000 tons of oil began leaking from the vessel on Aug. 6. Following the incident, JICA dispatched last week the second batch of members of the Japan Disaster Relief team to Mauritius. Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi told a press conference Tuesday that the ministry is considering sending additional environment experts to the island nation. The second team has inspected 12 locations near the shipwreck, finding no apparent coral deaths caused by the oil spill and no evidence of oil on the seabed. However, ropes containing the spill and the wreck of the ship have destroyed corals, according to a team official, and the water near the accident site is murky as a result. The front section of the ship was towed to open water and sunk as instructed by local authorities after the wreckage was broken into two. "If turbidity continues for a long period of time, it will put stress on corals and could kill them," Sakaguchi said, adding the team will continue to monitor the situation and take measures to deal with it.
The Japanese government said on Monday that a second disaster relief team will be dispatched to Mauritius this week to help respond to an oil leak from a Japanese freighter that ran aground offshore last month. According to the Japanese Environment Ministry, the team consists of seven experts including officials from the ministry and the National Institute for Environmental Studies. They will leave Japan on Wednesday to help clean up oil and assist in grasping the environmental damage of the incident. The first team, consisting of four experts from the Japan Coast Guard and one official each from the Foreign Ministry and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, has already started relief activities last week, said the Japanese Foreign Ministry. The second team will be sent at the request of Mauritius and carry with them items such as sorbents to deal with oil spills, the ministry added. The Panama-flagged bulk carrier Wakashio ran aground on July 25, according to Nagashiki Shipping Co., the owner of the ship. The operator of the vessel, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., has said more than 1,000 tons of oil have leaked from it, triggering a state of environmental emergency in the Indian Ocean island nation.
Japan will send a disaster relief team to Mauritius in response to fuel leakage from a stranded Japanese-owned freighter that ran aground off the Indian Ocean island nation, the Foreign Ministry said Sunday. The six-member expert team will leave Japan on Monday, the ministry said after Mauritius declared a state of environmental emergency over the fuel leakage on Friday. Earlier Sunday, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., the operator of the Panama-flagged bulk carrier Wakashio, said more than 1,000 tons of fuel oil has leaked from the vessel. "We're terribly sorry," Akihiko Ono, executive vice president of the major shipping company, said at a news conference in Tokyo. The vessel was carrying a total of some 3,800 tons of fuel oil when it went aground on July 25. Leakage began Thursday when a fuel tank suffered a crack. Ono vowed to make all-out efforts to resolve the case in cooperation with Nagashiki Shipping Co., an Okayama Prefecture-based company that owns the ship. As of Sunday, a massive amount of heavy oil had washed ashore along the coast of Mauritius, sparking concerns about damage to the country's crucially important tourism industry and the impact on endangered animals such as indigenous wild birds and sea turtles. As local residents strive to remove leaked fuel from the sea, the Mauritius government has sought assistance from France and the United Nations in coping with the disaster. The Japanese disaster relief team, to be dispatched at the request of Mauritius, will start relief activities such as oil removal on site upon arrival, according to the Foreign Ministry. "The accident could have a serious impact on the environment and the tourism industry of Mauritius," the ministry said in a statement. "We hope that this assistance will contribute to the recovery of the environment of Mauritius and the prevention of marine pollution." The team consists of four experts from the Japan Coast Guard and one official each from the Foreign Ministry and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, according to government officials. The freighter, which was en route to the Brazil area from China via Singapore, was grounded near Pointe d'Esny, an area designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, which is close to Blue Bay Marine Park, another Ramsar site. The approximately 300-meter-long ship designed to transport bulk cargo such as iron ore, built-in 2007, was carrying no cargo at the time. All 20 members of the multinational crew evacuated safely and are unharmed. Mauritius, with a population of around 1.3 million, is located around 2,000 kilometers east of Mozambique off the southeast coast of Africa.
The island nation of Mauritius has declared a "state of environmental emergency" after a vessel offshore began leaking oil into the ocean. MV Wakashio ran aground on a coral reef off the Indian Ocean island on 25 July and its crew was evacuated. But the large bulk carrier has since begun leaking tons of fuel into the surrounding waters. France has pledged support and the ship's owner said it was working to combat the spill. Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared the state of emergency late on Friday. He said the nation did not have "the skills and expertise to refloat stranded ships" as he appealed to France for help. The French island of Reunion lies near Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Mauritius is home to world-renowned coral reefs, and tourism is a crucial part of the nation's economy. "When biodiversity is in peril, there is an urgency to act," French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on Saturday. "France is there. Alongside the people of Mauritius. You can count on our support dear Jugnauth." In a separate statement, the French embassy in Mauritius said a military aircraft from Reunion would bring pollution control equipment to Mauritius. Happy Khambule of Greenpeace Africa said "thousands" of animal species were "at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with dire consequences for Mauritius' economy, food security, and health". The ship - owned by a Japanese company but registered in Panama - was empty when it ran aground, but had some 4,000 tonnes of fuel aboard.
The prime minister of Mauritius has declared a state of environmental emergency and appealed to France for urgent assistance as oil from a grounded cargo ship spilled unabated into the island nation's protected waters. Rough seas have hampered efforts to stop fuel leaking from the bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which ran aground two weeks ago and is polluting pristine waters in an ecologically critical marine area off the southeast coast. "A state of environmental emergency has been declared," Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth posted on his Twitter account late Friday. The tanker, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, was carrying 3,800 tonnes of fuel when it struck a reef at Pointe d'Esny, an internationally-listed conservation site near the turquoise waters of the Blue Bay marine park. The environment ministry announced this week that oil had begun seeping from the hull, as volunteers rushed to the coast to prepare for the worst. Soon, oil-slicked the coral reefs, lagoons, and white-sand shores upon which Mauritius has built its reputation as a green tourism destination. Aerial images showed the scale of the damage, with huge stretches of azure seas stained inky black by the spill. A spokesman at Mitsui OSK Lines, which operates the vessel owned by another Japanese company, said fuel was being airlifted by helicopter from the stricken bulker to shore but poor weather was complicating matters. "We tried to place a containment boom near the ship but it’s not working well due to high waves," the spokesman told AFP in Tokyo on Saturday. Some of the fuel was in separate tanks and may not be at risk of leaking, he added. Jugnauth, after touring the disaster site, expressed fears the crisis could worsen with bad weather forecast over the weekend and made an urgent appeal for help. "We don't know what will happen to the boat," he said. "The sinking of the Wakashio represents a danger for Mauritius. Our country does not have the skills and expertise to refloat stranded ships, so I have requested the help of France" and its president, Emmanuel Macron. In a statement Saturday, the French embassy in Mauritius said a military aircraft from the nearby French Indian Ocean island of Reunion would make two rotations over the disaster area with pollution control equipment. Two experts would also be aboard, the statement added. Twenty crew members were evacuated safely from the ship when it ran aground on July 25. Ecologists fear the ship could further break up, causing an even greater leak and inflict potentially catastrophic damage on the island nation's coastline, which forms the backbone of Mauritius' economy. Mauritius depends crucially on its seas for food and for tourism, boasting some of the finest coral reefs in the world.


Number of dead: 0 person(s)
Number of injured: 0 person(s)
Number of Affected: 0 person(s)
Number of Rescued/evacuated: 0 person(s)
Number of Missing: 0 person(s)
Number of Infected: 0 person(s)

Event Specific Details

[Environment Pollution - chemical]

Overview map

Risk Analisys

Nearest marine ports Port Louis (42.63 km)
Nearest airports Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (7.44 km)
Nearest nuclear power plant There is no known nuclear power plant nearby.

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