Ship’s captain allegedly at a party when it ran aground damaging Mauritius’ wildlife and economy

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Wakaishio

The tourism-dependent economy of Mauritius may be damaged for many years and its marine wildlife severely harmed because the captain of a cargo ship containing oil was at a party with his crew at the time it ran aground spilling oil and breaking up. Local media reportedly confirmed that crew members said that they had been celebrating a birthday at the time the ship ran aground.

Wakaishio

Wakaishio. Photo: The Times.

The reports say that the ship was off course for a long time before it hit ground and broke up. The Mauritius coastguard tried repeatedly to contact the vessel to warn them that the ship was off course without a response. The ship also failed to send out an SOS or respond to the coastguard’s calls after it ran aground at Pointe d’Esny, which is near the Blue Bay Marine Park.

The disaster happened on July 25 this year. The crew were questioned about why the Japanese-owned Wakaishio had come so close to shore while making its journey from Singapore to Brazil.

The captain is named as Kumar Nandeshwar, 58. Both him and his first officer have appeared in court at Port Louis where they were charged with endangering safe navigation. A bail hearing is scheduled for next week.

The island’s population is angry and it has caused an ecological disaster with tons of oil spilling over a protected marine reserve. It is affecting fish and other sea life. They are concerned that the government did not act faster to prevent the accident and to contain the spillage of 1,000 tons of oil. The remaining oil was pumped out. The ship is in two parts. The larger part is to be towed out into the ocean and sunk. The other part is stuck on the ground near the Blue Bay marine park.