Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), operator of a Japanese bulk carrier, which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean last week, has apologised for a major oil spill officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster in the country.
The MV Wakashio, operated by MOL, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. Fuel started leaking from the cracked vessel on Thursday.
“We apologise profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Akihiko Ono, executive vice president of MOL said at a new conference in Tokyo.
He said the company would do everything in their power to resolve the issue.
At least 1,000 tonnes of oil is estimated to have leaked from the ship onto the waters surrounding Mauritius. Some 500 tonnes of oil have been salvaged from the ship, but there are still 2,500 tonnes remaining on the ship.
Neither MOL nor Nagashiki Shipping, the ship’s owner, could confirm the cost of damages from the oil spill.
Japan will dispatch a six-person disaster relief team on the request of the Mauritius government to help with removing the spilt oil, according to a statement by the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
“We hope that this assistance will contribute to recovery of the environment of Mauritius and prevention of marine pollution,” the statement said.
France Is also sending specialist teams and equipment to Mauritius, once a French colony, to help deal with the spill.
Mauritius declared a state of “environmental emergency” on Friday following the accident.
Environmentalists fear the oil spill is the worst ecological disaster the island nation had seen, and would endanger its marine ecology and the pristine waters that attract tourists from around the globe.
Mauritius, famous for its pristine beaches, is popular with tourists who last year contributed 63 billion Mauritius rupees ($1.6 billion) to the economy.