Satellite images showed some of the turquoise waters surrounding Mauritius stained a muddy black after last week’s oil spill, fouling mangrove wetlands.
On Thursday Mauritius authorities said they were seeking compensation from the owners of a Japanese ship that spilled the oil after it grounded in the shallow waters off the Indian Ocean island nation, while urgent efforts continue to pump out the remaining fuel.
The MV Wakashio spilled 1,000 tons of its cargo of 4,000 tons of oil into the sea, fouling the coastline of Mauritius, including a protected wetlands area.
That threatens 35 years of work to restore the area, environmental activists said Wednesday.
An estimated 2,500 tons of fuel has been pumped from the ship, stranded on a coral reef at Pointe d’Esny, a sanctuary for rare wildlife.
Workers are racing to empty the ship before it breaks up in heavy seas and further pollutes the shore.
Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said Mauritius will seek compensation for the extensive environmental damage from the Wakashio’s owner, Nagashiki Shipping. He has declared the oil spill a national disaster.
Jugnauth’s government is under pressure to explain why it did not take immediate action to empty the ship when it ran aground on July 25.
Two weeks later, after pounding by waves, the ship cracked and began leaking.
Thousands of Mauritians have been working for days to reduce the damage by making improvised booms from fabric and stuffed with straw and sugar cane leaves to try to contain the oil’s spread.
Others have scooped up oil from the shallow waters.
It is estimated that nearly 400 tons that spilled have been removed from the sea.
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