India sends tech team to contain Mauritius oil spill
India has sent a technical response team and more than 30 tonnes of equipment to Mauritius to help in efforts to contain a massive oil spill from a Japanese bulk carrier, which broke apart on Saturday after leaking hundreds of tonnes of fuel.
In response to a request from the government of Mauritius, the technical equipment and material was sent on board an Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft to “supplement the country’s ongoing oil spill containment and salvage operations”, the external affairs ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
A 10-member technical response team, consisting of Coast Guard personnel specially trained in oil spill containment measures, has been deployed to Mauritius to extend technical and operational assistance at the site, the statement added.
The specialised equipment sent by India includes ocean and river booms, disc skimmers, heli-skimmers, power packs, blowers, salvage barge, oil absorbent graphene pads and other accessories. The equipment is specifically designed to contain oil slicks, skim oil from water, and assist in clean up and salvage operations.
The Japanese-owned MV Wakashio ran aground on a coral reef at Pointe d’Esny on July 25 and began leaking hundreds of tonnes of oil into a pristine lagoon last week. It broke apart on Saturday after a crack inside the hull expanded, and the National Crisis Committee of Mauritius said in statement: “At around 4.30 pm, a major detachment of the vessel’s forward section was observed.”
The ship’s operator, Mitsui OSK Lines, said vessel was carrying 3,800 tonnes of very low sulphur fuel oil and 200 tonnes of diesel oil. About 1,180 tonnes of oil had leaked from the fuel tank, and about 460 tonnes were manually recovered, the operator said.
Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has declared a state of environmental emergency.
The Indian team will join a massive clean-up operation involving thousands of local volunteers.
“India’s assistance is in line with its policy to extend humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to its neighbours in the Indian Ocean region, guided by the prime minister’s vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region),” the external affairs ministry said.
The assistance reflects the close bonds of friendship between India and Mauritius and New Delhi’s abiding commitment to assist the people of Mauritius, it said.
The assistance for the oil spill follows recent support provided by India to Mauritius in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, including the supply of essential medicines, a consignment of Ayurvedic medicines and the deployment of a medical assistance team as part of Mission Sagar.