The Japanese carrier ship which spilt tonnes of oil into the Indian Ocean off Mauritius has broken apart.
The MV Wakashio, which has been stranded in the water since it struck a reef on 25 July, split in two on Saturday afternoon following warnings that the ship’s condition was worsening, the Mauritius National Crisis Committee said.
A plan to tow the ship back to shore has been “implemented” and the clean-up operation is ongoing, it added.
Photos posted on social media by the official clean-up effort show the ship in two pieces, with oil barriers put in place and a skimmer ship nearby to assist.
In a statement, the committee said: “Discussions were held during the morning of August 15, 2020, with foreign experts with regards to the action plan for the cleaning of affected sites and to the subsequent rehabilitation of the marine and coastal ecosystem of the region.
“The Government of Mauritius is receiving additional experts’ assistance from different friendly countries to face the ecological challenge.
“Around 814 metric tonnes of oil liquid waste, 318 metric tonnes of solid waste sludge and contaminated debris, and 250 cubic metres of saturated artisan booms have been collected as at midday on 15 August.”
The ship’s leak last month prompted a state of environmental emergency to be declared.
Residents scrambled to prevent it ruining the waters, coral reefs and beaches that support the island’s key industries of fishing and tourism.
Around 3,000 tonnes of fuel, which was left on the ship, has since been removed.
But environmental groups warned that the damage to coral reefs and once-pristine coastal areas could be irreversible.
Owner Nagashiki Shipping is investigating why the ship went off course, as it was meant to stay at least 10 miles from the shore.
The Mauritian government is seeking compensation from the company.