The Japanese-owned bulk carrier responsible for leaking tonnes of oil off the coast of Mauritius has split in two.
While news of the collision spread last week, prompting a massive clean-up operation with thousands of local volunteers chipping in to help contain the oil spill, the complete removal of the ship is now expected to take months.
The environmental disaster resulting from the Japanese-owned bulk carrier hitting a coral reef off the coast of Mauritius has had thousands of locals working tirelessly to begin restoration of the area; including cutting off their own hair to help construct kilometres worth of floating barriers to contain the spillage.
The Mauritius National Crisis Committee predicted the worst with the condition of the MV Wakashio continuing to deteriorate over the past few days, and finally splitting on late Saturday afternoon.
The front portion, which makes up about two-thirds of the ship’s total mass, is expected to be extracted by tugboats and safely sunk further out at sea.
However, plans to remove the the back portion of the vessel, which remains stuck on the reef, are yet to be determined.
While the clean up alone is expected to take months, experts remain unsure of the full impact of the spill, with many projecting that it may take decades for the region to fully recover.
Japan’s Environment Minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, said on Saturday that Tokyo planned to send a team of officials from the ministry and other specialists to assess the damage.
Additionally, the Nagasaki Shipping Co. has promised to respond to the compensation requests over the extensive damage done to the marine environment, stating they feel “deeply responsible”.