PORT-LOUIS | The longest part of the wreckage smashed in half of a bulk carrier stranded in Mauritius, which leaked oil and caused an ecological disaster, was successfully sunk at a very great depth in the open sea, Mauritian authorities announced on Monday. .
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Two tugs began on Thursday to tow the entire front part – bow and hull – of the MV Wakashio about 15 km offshore, in the open sea, so that it was sunk at a depth of 3,180 meters in the Indian Ocean. .
The smallest part of the wreck – the stern topped by the superstructure – remained stranded on the reef it struck.
Stranded on July 25 on a reef at the tip of Esny, in the south-east of Mauritius, with 3,800 tonnes of fuel oil and 200 tonnes of diesel on board, the MV Wakashio broke two weeks later, after a race against time to pump out the fuel it still contained.
The ship let escape between 800 and 1,000 tons of fuel oil from its gutted sides, which soiled the coasts – especially protected areas sheltering mangrove forests and endangered species – and the crystal-clear waters that attract many tourists.
“The scheduled immersion of the bow of the wreck is finished and around 3:30 p.m. local (8:30 a.m. in Quebec), it was no longer visible on the surface of the water,” said the Crisis Committee on Monday in a press release. .
Opposed to this operation, the environmental NGO Greenpeace warned that sinking the wreck “would endanger biodiversity and risk contaminating the ocean with significant amounts of heavy toxic metals, threatening other areas as well, particularly the island. French of Reunion ”.
A team of British scientists has arrived in Mauritius in recent days to coordinate an impact study to find out the damage caused and the measures to be taken to allow the ecosystem to recover.
The team will help “determine the footprint left by the oil (…) on the coast (…), if it has reached certain areas of the seabed” and if it has had consequences on the mangrove, coral reefs and marine life, British marine scientist Dr Sue Ware told AFP.
According to her, the deployment of floating tubes seems to have made it possible to prevent the hydrocarbons from reaching the protected marine park of Blue Bay.
International experts from Japan – the country of the owner and owner of the ship – and from France (neighboring via the French island of Réunion) are also at work to help the archipelago.
The ship’s captain and his mate were arrested on Thursday, but the reasons why the ship, which was en route from Singapore to Brazil, passed so close to the coast of Mauritius have not yet been revealed.