Nairobi, Aug 12 (EFE) .- The Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, confirmed this Wednesday that “almost all the oil” from the freighter stranded on a reef off the southeast coast of the island has been pumped, except “166 metric tons. “that are still in the cellar.
“Almost all the crude has been pumped from the tanks,” Jugnauth announced at a press conference in Blue Bay (southeast), in which he specified that of the 4,180 metric tons of oil carried by the ship, 3,184 had been extracted while 800 had spread out to sea due to a crack in the hull.
“It has been a true race against time and I salute the tremendous work done to prevent another oil spill,” added the prime minister, who on Monday warned of the possibility that the ship would split in two causing greater ecological damage.
“There is no oil left in the tanks,” Mokshanand Sunil Dowarkasing, an environmental advisor on this small island in the Indian Ocean located east of Madagascar, confirmed to Efe by phone.
“Now the next step will be to withdraw those 166 metric tons of crude,” added Dowarkasing.
To finish emptying the ship, there will be the help of “divers”, said Jugnauth, who explained that the remaining fuel will be stored in a support boat.
This spill is already considered one of the worst crises in the history of the island, famous for its crystal clear waters, lagoons and paradisiacal beaches.
The affected area is a region of coral reefs, which had been rehabilitating for about fifteen years, and also of great marine and terrestrial diversity, with important natural reserves a few kilometers away.
Mauritian oceanographer and environmental expert Vassen Kauppaymuthoo estimated on Monday that it will take “about ten years for the marine ecosystem to resemble what it was.”
Since the weekend there has been a massive influx of people -many of them volunteers- to collaborate in the cleaning tasks on the beaches and the construction of containment barriers.
But the disaster is not only natural, but also economic, in an area where hundreds of families live from fishing and tourism, a sector that this year was already suffering from the strong impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
(c) EFE Agency