Owners apologise for freighter leaking oil off Mauritius coast
Tokyo - The Japanese owner of a cargo ship leaking oil off the coast of Mauritius apologised on Saturday for the threat to the environment and promised to do its utmost to contain the spill.
"We deeply apologize to people in Mauritius and those concerned for causing them so much trouble," read a Saturday statement from Nagashiki Shipping. "To protect the environment, we will do our utmost to recover the leaked oil, pump out the oil that remains in the ship and remove the ship safely while coordinating with Mauritius and relevant Japanese agencies."
Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency on Friday. The Japanese freighter ran aground last month off the coast of the popular tourist island off the eastern African coast, but only began leaking oil this week.
The vessel had been en route to Brazil without cargo.
First attempts were made to get the 300-metre-long ship afloat again, but because of the poor weather conditions, little progress could be made, said Nagashiki Shipping.
The ship had around 4,000 tons of oil in its tanks and began to leak on Thursday.
Authorities and helpers are currently trying to remove the oil that has already leaked and to pump out the remaining oil in the freighter, Tatayah explained.
But this is progressing slowly, "the task is enormous," he added.
Aerial photographs have shown the oil slick spreading through the turquoise waters surrounding the island. Other images, in the local L'Express newspaper, showed blackened beaches and dead marine life.
France is among the countries to have pledged support.
"If biodiversity is at risk, there is an urgent need for action," wrote President Emmanuel Macron on Twitter. "France is here."
An aircraft and a naval ship with experts, as well as material, will be sent from La Reunion, said the island's prefect. La Reunion belongs to France and is located about 230 kilometres south-west of Mauritius.
Greenpeace said the spill from the bulk carrier would have devastating consequences.
Nagashiki Shipping reported no injuries among its crew, all of whom are now in quarantine on the island, local media reported. The crew members hail from India, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.