Japan to send team to Mauritius to assist in oil spill crisis

Volunteers take part in the clean-up operation in Mahebourg, Mauritius on Aug 12. (AP pic)

TOKYO: Japanese Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi said on Saturday Tokyo planned to send a team of officials from the ministry and other specialists to Mauritius to assess the damage from an oil spill.

A Japanese bulk carrier struck a coral reef off Mauritius on July 25, spilling about 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil and triggering a state of “environmental emergency” in what some scientists call the country’s worst ecological disaster.

Removing the ship will be a delicate operation and is likely to take months.

France, which once ruled Mauritius as a colony, has said it will assist with the cleanup.

Koizumi also told reporters on Saturday he saw the oil spill as a grave crisis that could lead to a loss of biodiversity.

The ship, MV Wakashio, is owned by Japan’s Nagashiki Shipping and chartered by Mitsui OSK Lines.