The small island nation in the Indian Ocean is in a state of environmental emergency.
The people of Mauritius are banding together to help clean up a massive oil spill, which has placed about 10 square miles of the island nation’s coast in jeopardy. BBC explains that the spill occurred when a Japanese oil carrier, called the MV Wakashio, ran aground on a coral reef in late July. The vessel became derelict and started to break up in early August, leaking part of its load into Mauritius’ previously pristine waters.
While the situation is dire, the people of Mauritius are banding together to help preserve their scenic landscape through an island-wide effort. Catholic News Service reports that Cardinal Maurice Piat of Port-Louis has hailed the public response, which has drawn together people of all faiths in Mauritius. The prelate said:
“Numerous families are afflicted by a pestilential and persistent odor — fishermen and all those living from the sea are suffering particularly, while ecological treasures in our coastal bays and islets are gravely damaged,” said Cardinal Piat. “Amid the pain shared by so many, I salute the beautiful outpouring of active and enterprising solidarity now showing itself in a bid to save what might still be saved.”
The CNS report goes on to note that the crisis has led to a strengthening of religious and cultural ties between the many peoples of Mauritius. The nation’s Interreligious Council planed an interfaith prayer service, with the land, those who clean up, and the effort itself as intentions.
As the people of Mauritius rush to attend to the spill before long-term affects can set in, members of Greenpeace Africa warn that the damage may have already been done. According to a report from Global News, featured above, the remaining oil is being siphoned from the crumbling vessel, but it is unclear if it can all be removed before the hull breaks further.