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Mauritius oil spill: Tanker breaks in two, leaving "titanic job" to clean oil from coast

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Mitsui OSK Lines
Greenpeace Africa
La Reunion
CBS Interactive Inc.
The Associated Press

Nagashiki Shipping
Pravind Jugnauth
Shinjiro Koizumi
Sebastian Lecornu


the Indian Ocean

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Port Louis
La Reunion

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The spill is both an environmental and economic disaster for Mauritius, which relies heavily on tourism.The spill already qualifies as the Indian Ocean island nation's "worst ecological disaster," Greenpeace Africa campaigner Happy Khambule said, adding that it "puts unique species under immediate threats." Now that the ship has split, the salvage team intends to pull the front two-thirds out to sea using two tugboats to avoid further damage to the Mauritian coastline, a police official in the capital Port Louis told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.The remaining portion is still stuck on the reef and officials have not yet determined how they might remove it, the official said.That portion includes the ship's engine room, which still contains 30 cubic meters (yards) of oil, and rough weather will complicate efforts to pump that oil out, according to a statement Sunday from the Mauritian crisis committee formed to respond to the spill.The crisis committee expects rough weather for the next five days, "with high energy swells of a maximum height of 3.5 metres (11 feet)," the statement said. Japanese Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi said Saturday he planned to dispatch a team of environment ministry officials and other experts to Mauritius to "swiftly assess what the ministry can do."Tokyo sees the disaster "as a significant crisis that could result in the loss of biodiversity," he told reporters in Tokyo on Saturday.France is also contributing to the relief effort, and Sebastian Lecornu, minister of overseas territories, visited Mauritius Sunday to supervise the team sent to help mitigate the effects of the pollution.He stopped first in the nearby French overseas department of La Reunion, and warned that some oil could reach there."We remain vigilant about the fate of the wreck and the impact on our coasts," he said on Twitter.

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