This aerial view taken on August 6, 2020 shows a large patch of leaked oil and the vessel MV Wakashio (R), belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius. - France on August 8, 2020 dispatched aircraft and technical advisers from Reunion to Mauritius after the prime minister appealed for urgent assistance to contain a worsening oil spill polluting the island nation's famed reefs, lagoons and oceans. Rough seas have hampered efforts to stop fuel leaking from the bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which ran aground two weeks ago, and is staining pristine waters in an ecologically protected marine area off the south-east coast. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
Video shows enormous oil leak in pristine lagoon
01:38 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

A ship that has leaked tons of oil off the coast of Mauritius has split apart, authorities said on Saturday.

“At around 4.30 pm, a major detachment of the vessel’s forward section was observed,” the National Crisis Committee of Mauritius said in statement.

The Japanese-owned ship, MV Wakashio, ran aground at Pointe d’Esny in late July and began leaking tons of oil into a pristine Indian Ocean lagoon last week.

A massive clean-up operation involving thousands of local volunteers had been underway. But a crack inside the hull of the ship expanded earlier this week, according to the ship’s operator Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, a Japanese company.

Tal Harris, a communications coordinators for Greenpeace Africa International, told CNN that authorities have “decreed the area a forbidden zone” and volunteers have been asked to ceased activities.

Earlier this week, Sunil Dowarkasing, a former strategist for Greenpeace International and former member of parliament in Mauritius, told CNN that one of the ship’s three oil tanks had already leaked into the ocean and crews were attempting to remove the oil from the other tanks before the ship broke up.

The MV Wakashio split on Saturday after weeks grounded in pristine waters off Mauritius.

It’s unclear how much oil was removed before Saturday. Earlier this week, the operator, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, said about 1,180 metric tons of oil had leaked from the vessel’s fuel tank – with about 460 tons manually recovered from the sea and coast. The ship was carrying about 3,800 tons of Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil and 200 tons of diesel oil, according to the operator.

Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth had declared a state of environmental emergency.

“We are in a situation of environmental crisis,” Kavy Ramano, the country’s environment minister, had said.

The spill is close to two environmentally protected marine ecosystems and the Blue Bay Marine Park reserve. Nearby are a number of popular tourist beaches and mangrove plantations.

The MV Wakashio was on its way from China to Brazil when it ran aground on the reef on July 25.