A Japanese bulk carrier that has leaked hundreds of tonnes of fuel oil off the Mauritius coast has broken apart, according to the authorities in the island-nation. On July 25, the MV Wakashio ran aground at Pointe d'Esny, a known sanctuary for rare wildlife, with 4,000 tonnes of the fuel, causing an ecological emergency, the BBC reported.

The area also contains wetlands designated as a site of international importance by the Ramsar Convention on wetlands. In a statement on Saturday night, the Mauritius National Crisis Committee said: "At around 4.30 p.m., a major detachment of the vessel's forward section was observed."

Over 3,000 Tonnes of Oil Pumped Out

MV Wakashio
MV Wakashio Wikimedia Commons

About 90 tonnes of the fuel was believed to be still on board when the vessel split, the committee said, adding that booms had been reinforced near the vessel to absorb any more oil that leaked out. Mauritius has said it will seek compensation for the leak from "the owner and the insurer".

Japanese firm Nagashiki Shipping has pledged to respond to requests for compensation. According to Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth, more than 3,000 of the 4,000 tonnes of oil from the ship's fuel reservoirs had been pumped out.

Police Acquire A Search Warrant

Last week, PM declared a state of emergency and appealed for international help. An oceanographer and environmental engineer in Mauritius, Vassen Kauppaymuthoo, told the BBC that local residents were now "breathing heavy vapors of oil", and there was a "mixture of sadness and anger" over the spill.

Police in Mauritius said they have been granted a search warrant, allowing them to board the vessel to take away items of interest such as the ship's logbook in order to help with an investigation. The ship's captain will assist officers with their search.