An environmental emergency has been declared in Mauritius after a tanker spilled tons of oil into the Indian Ocean.
Images show the dark oil slick spreading through the water after the ship, which was reportedly carrying almost 4,000 tons of fuel, ran aground and sustained a cracked hull.
Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said the spillage 'represents a danger' to Mauritians and is calling on France to help out.
He said: "Our country doesn't have the skills and expertise to re-float stranded ships, so I asked for help from France and Emmanuel Macron.
"Bad weather has made it impossible to act, and I worry what could happen on Sunday when the weather deteriorates."
In response, Macron has tweeted to say: "When biodiversity is in peril, it is urgent to act.
"France is there. Alongside the people of Mauritius. You can count on our support, dear Jugnauth."
Mauritius' environment minister Kavy Ramano has said the state is in an 'environmental crisis'.
The environmental ministry is reported to have said earlier attempts to stabilise the broken ship to pump out the oil hadn't work due to rough seas.
According to Sky News, the boat had been heading from China to Brazil. The ship, which is thought to be Japanese but is registered in Panama, was empty when it ran aground.
In a statement seen by the BBC, the firm which owns the ship, Nagashiki Shipping, said: "Due to the bad weather and constant pounding over the past few days, the starboard side bunker tank of the vessel has been breached and an amount of fuel oil has escaped into the sea."
It continued: "Oil prevention measures are in place and an oil boom has been deployed around the vessel," before adding that it 'takes its environmental responsibilities extremely seriously and will take every effort with partner agencies and contractors to protect the marine environment and prevent further pollution'.
Greenpeace Africa's climate and energy manager Happy Khambule said in a statement: "Thousands of species around the pristine lagoons of Blue Bay, Pointe d'Esny and Mahebourg are at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution, with dire consequences for Mauritius' economy, food security and health."
Police have now opened an inquiry into the spill.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock
Topics: World News
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