Disasters & Accidents

Mauritius police detain captain of oil spill vessel

Nairobi, Aug 18 (efe-epa).- The captain and second-in-command of a ship that ran aground off the coast of Mauritius on 25 July, spilling hundreds of tons of oil into the sea in the vicinity of a nature sanctuary, were arrested on Tuesday.

The captain of the Japanese-owned and Panamanian-flagged MV Wakashio cargo ship, Indian citizen Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar, and his second-in-command Sri Lankan Tilakara Ratna Suboda both appeared in court.

On the African island nation’s capital, Port Louis, they heard the accusations against them of endangering safe navigation.

The pair will remain in police custody until another court appearance slated for 25 August, according to local media.

It is as yet unclear whether the accident, the worst ecological disaster in Mauritius’ history, was a result of a technical issue or human error.

The 300-meter boat was navigating close to shore when it ran aground on a coral reef off the Indian Ocean island.

The vessel, which was traveling from China to Brazil, split in two over the weekend. It had been carrying 200 tons of diesel and close to 4,000 tons of fuel for its combustion.

An estimated 800 tons of fuel has spilt into the ocean.

Around 20 crew members were evacuated from the wreck after the wreck.

MV Wakashio ran aground at Pointe d’Esny, which lies near an important conservation area of wetlands and reefs and is home to rare species of animals.

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