Anxious Mauritians use hair to stem Japanese ship’s oil spill

Nairobi, August 10

Mauritians are making floating booms of human hair and leaves in a round the clock scramble to mop up oil leaking from a grounded Japanese ship onto their pristine Indian Ocean seashores.

The MV Wakashio, owned by the Nagashiki Shipping Company and operated by Mitsui OSK Line, started oozing gasoline into turquoise sea waters final week after hitting a reef off the island.

Mauritius has declared a state of emergency and former colonial ruler France has despatched assist in what environmental group Greenpeace mentioned might be a serious ecological disaster.

Romina Tello, 30-year-old founding father of eco-tourism company Mauritius Conscious, spent the weekend serving to clear black sludge from mangrove swamps. She mentioned Mauritians have been making booms to drift on the ocean out of sugar cane leaves, plastic bottles and hair that individuals have been voluntarily slicing off.

“Hair absorbs oil but not water,” Tello defined by cellphone.

“There’s been a big campaign around the island to get the hair.” Videos on-line present volunteers stitching leaves and hair into nets to drift on the floor and corral the oil till it may be sucked up by hoses.

Diving centres, fishermen and others have all joined within the cleanup effort, with some offering sandwiches, guesthouses providing free lodging to volunteers and hair salons providing reductions to these donating hair, Tello mentioned.

The oil spill is close to the Blue Bay Marine Park, recognized for its spectacular corals and myriad fish species.

“It is really moving— everyone is doing what we can. It breaks our hearts to see the damage,” Tello mentioned.

Mauritius depends on tourism as a serious contributor to its economic system, 63 billion rupees ($1.6 billion) final 12 months.

“We apologise profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Akihiko Ono, government vice-president of Mitsui OSK Lines, advised reporters in Tokyo on Sunday, pledging to do all the things doable to stem the spill.

At least 1,000 tonnes of oil is estimated to have leaked, with 500 tonnes salvaged and a few 2,500 tonnes remaining. — Reuters

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