Two weeks ago, a cargo ship ran aground in our lagoon, right by Blue Bay, a protected Marine Park.
Today, the ship is flooding the lagoon with oil.
There are plans to collect hair and make natural nets to soak up the oil, I hope that goes ahead.
Dead fish are already washing up on the shore. Fishermen across the coast won't be able to make a living for the next few years.
This is a massive crisis.
Video by a local news station in Kreol, describing the situation. If you understand Haitian or St Lucian Creole, ours is rather similar: https://www.facebook.com/www.defimedia.info/videos/1574459902733197
Here's how the government tried to contain the spill. The black curves on the photo are the booms put in place.
This is the magnitude of the disaster at the moment.
But there are local efforts underway, too. Handmade booms made of bagasse to trap the oil.
Mahebourg's full of people helping to make the natural boomers. This is a citizen-led initiative, too - the local authorities haven't helped much at all.
And at night, the work continues.
*natural booms, ugh. Oh well.
Good morning everyone! Here's the latest. The citizen-led initiative is still going on, everyone's hard at work this morning across the island. Here are a few images:
A few more pictures for you, and a meme.
Those large needles are used to sew the sacks containing bagasse. The natural booms are working really well.
Eerie photo of Ile aux Aigrettes this morning, found on http://lexpress.mu
Emmanuel Macron promises to help Mauritius. Here's his message to our PM, and Reunion island's plan of action:
Pictures of the leak from Maxar:
Picture by Nicolas Couronne. These are all volunteers removing the oil from the lagoon.
Jerome Bonieux, kitesurf instructor, is enraged. He says that the barriers placed by the government are completely useless; the gov. officials didn't take the sea currents into consideration. He says that he tried talking to them but they wouldn't listen. https://www.facebook.com/852275537/posts/10163435050685538/
Pictures from today, 08/08. People are planning on staying all night, crafting more booms. Doctors are in Pointe d'Esny, helping those working on booms and those in the lagoon cleaning the oil.
Photo 1: Anais Dercy, Photo 2: Navneesh Ramessur.
Hi, new followers! I'm terrible at twitter and don't know how to make a proper thread. Anyway. I'm a writer and freelance journalist, and I've lived in Mauritius almost my whole life, and live there now. I'm doing my best to cover the disaster.
This Government communique from yesterday effectively means that citizens helping out in Mahebourg are acting illegally.
This is still a place where you can be arrested for criticising the gov. online, for posting a meme.
But the work continues. The booms are still being made.
A funny story for you: so you may have heard that Emmanuel Macron responded to Pravind Jugnauth's (our PM) tweet offering help. Except...the account was fake.
And the person behind the account has solicited help and aid from other powerful countries, too.
Mangroves covered in oil in Vieux Grand Port. The spill is spreading.
An illustration by Daphné Doomun:
Right, I'm going to bed. Thank you to everyone who shared this post, to those of you who are following the crisis.
We'll need all your good thoughts and prayers tonight. There's bad weather at sea. The ship may break with the force of the waves, leading to an even greater spill.
Good morning everyone! It's Day 3 of the Wakashio crisis, 8am here in Mauritius and you can expect tweets every three hours from me with the latest news.
People will still be gathering across the island to make the natural booms filled with bagasse and hair. The booms are working! See for yourself:
As you may have seen yesterday, the gov. has made it illegal to help in the Mahebourg waterfront. Don't know if they'll arrest people today. For the record, the authorities aren't doing much at all. The clean-up is a citizen-led initiative.
Last thing until 11am. If ever I tweet that I've been arrested, can I count on your support? Because international solidarity's the only thing that will help.
They're arresting people for memes, so now a series of tweets showing government incompetence...
Back again. So, something pretty horrid happened last night. The PM was on TV; he was giggling with his entourage before his speech. Then, he spoke about 'harmful volunteers'. Enfin.
The oil is spreading. Today, volunteers are concentrating their work in the Vieux Grand Port and Falaise Rouge area. On social media, I hear that the oil's making its way up the North-east coast.
You can watch volunteers at work on the Rezistans ek Alternativ facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/reziste/videos/308517683827367/
Vieux Grand Port this morning. Pictures from the Ferney team:
Back! So, here are today's newspapers. A look at the news inside...
The PM said that experts were unable to remove the oil from the ship over the last two weeks because the weather was bad. They couldn't stabilise the hull due to the waves.
But Louis Thelva, a fisherman interviewed by the Week-End newspaper, says the sea is always dangerous here and that the authorities should have asked for their help: "It's not a question of good or bad weather, but a question of prowess of the sea and its currents."
Also: the tug boat that the government wanted to use to pull the ship away from the reef...is out of service.
And here's an interview of Amaury Rochecouste, operations manager at Immersub. He says the ship is breaking in two.
Very worrying news: there are new cracks in the ship. Photo by Bruneau Laurette.
Popping back with serious news on the oil spill in Mauritius:
Strong winds are blowing the oil towards the east and northeast coast, as well as ile aux cerfs.
Dr. Kauppaymuthoo, premier oceanographer of the island, says there's a high probability that the ship breaks in two, unleashes 3200 tonnes of oil in the lagoon and inundates the eastern and northern coast.
Defimedia are producing great videos. They're tracking the movement of the oil up the eastern coast. Here's the latest: https://www.facebook.com/www.defimedia.info/videos/3096205867100819/
More photos today. The first, of oil in the water, is by Brady Goorappa.
Nagashiki Shipping Company have apologized for the disaster. Japanese authorities are sending experts to Mauritius tomorrow.
BREAKING: a new video from Rezistans shows a massive gash across the hull of the ship. Is this a sign of the collapse to come? #MauritiusOilSpill http://www.facebook.com/274182099444961/posts/1518431618353330/
8pm already! Really happy to see this article in the BBC. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-53713391
Yasmin Timol, who works at JUA, is building a biological waste treatment to deal with the crisis. She's cultivating bacteria that can break down petroleum waste. I hope she succeeds!
is fundraising for Eco-Sud using this GoFundMe platform. Donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/solidarite-ile-maurice
The Japanese press say about 1000 tons of oil have flooded the lagoon.
My friend who helped out today said Bois des Amourettes smells like a petrol station. And that's still tolerable - some areas smell horrific because of all the death of marine animals.
The Prime Minister has just held a press conference. Note that he refused entry to two media outlets at this conference, one of which is L'Express, a bastion of local journalism.
In his press conference the PM said that the ship's most probably going to crack and break into two parts. There are apparently 2500 metric tons of oil left in the ship. They haven't been able to transfer the oil or pump it out due to the deteriorating weather.
There's a belief that it will crack tonight. I'll be back at 11pm, if not earlier. Pray for us and donate, please. There's horror to come.
No news from the ship, but the work continues. I'll try and get some sleep now, but wanted share this illustration by Zan-Pol with you.
See you tomorrow at 9am my time (6am GMT, 1am EST) xxx
Good morning! It’s 9am here in Mauritius, and here’s the latest.
People are going back to work today, so numerous boon-making operations will slow down or stall.
I’ve seen quite a few companies that are part of the initiative say that they’re going to spend the day thinking about ways to make the boons better, and develop better strategies.
I believe that many of these companies will be holding emergency meetings today. Covid-19 wiped millions of our stock market; tourism is the bastion of our economy. Our borders are still closed. And though we’ve happily been Covid-19 free for about three months now…
...we're facing this disaster. It’ll wreck the remains of tourism and our fishing industry, too. Many fishermen – who already struggle to make a living – have had their livelihoods dashed. With Covid-19, 100,000 Mauritians are projected to be unemployed by the end of the year.
100,000 out of 1.2 million people. With the oil spill, I don't know how what the unemployment rate's going to look like. Rezistans have appealed to those who are unemployed to come join them and help in the relief efforts.
Otherwise, schools in the region are still closed, and the ship is still cracking. I'll be back at midday. I'll leave you with these two photos; the first is by Daphney Dupré, the second by Umar Timol.
And as usual, throughout this thread, I keep misspelling 'boom'. I've written 'boon' this morning, 'boomer' two days ago. Sorry xx
Also: we've received lots of coverage from @BBCWorld
and I'm really grateful, but I'd like to see them interview Dr. Vikash Tatayah (Mauritius Wildlife Foundation) and David Sauvage (Eco-Sud). I have their contact details if journalists are interested x
Midday, and Day 4 of the oil spill. @hugoclement
's gofundme page won't crash when you donate (unlike some of the others), and all proceeds will go to Eco-Sud. Donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/solidarite-ile-maurice
The oil's slithering up the east coast. There are fears that it'll reach Ile aux Cerfs today. Here's the islet in better times:
More pictures of the situation from @AFP
The ship is going down. I'll be back with more information in a few hours or so, so stay tuned.
Apologies for the late reply everybody! Here's the situation at Anse Jonchee, on the east coast. The oil's travelling.
Greta Thunberg posted about the #MauritiusOilSpill
! The crowdfunding link she posted has crashed (!!), but…
Last thing tonight: just realised that my cover photo, which I've had for ages, is of the sea at Pointe d'Esny.
I'll see you all tomorrow with more news!
Good morning! Here's the front page of L'Express. The countdown to Wakashio's foundering has begun.
Photo by Rajiv Groochurn, taken yesterday.
What's clear is that this crisis will revolutionise Mauritian politics. Joanna Berenger, of the MMM party (part of the opposition) has appeared on the BBC amongst others. She's the most active politician on the ground, too.
The legendary Patti Smith shared Greta Thunberg's call to action for the #MauritiusOilSpill
, which is lovely.
I'll leave you with this. See you at midday for more news.
Ok but one last thing: I honestly think that every celebrity who came to Mauritius should donate some money. You came here, you enjoyed the beauty of the island and our hospitality...now please help us out.
Midday! Here's a heartbreaking image of a bird covered in oil, reported in L'Express this morning. NGOs and vets all around the island are helping the animals on the coast.
Come back to this thread in 30mins if you can for a big report.
Ok, so: I covered the disaster for @NBCNews
. It's a pretty thorough report if I say so myself, since...well, I'm on the ground. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/mauritius-races-contain-oil-spill-grounded-ship-protect-coastline-n1236294
Here's some news for you: the crew members were questioned by the police yesterday. They said that they steered the boat closer to the coast...to get an internet connection.
They were celebrating a birthday party.
UPDATE! Rezistans ek Alternativ are reporting that the ship has cracked into two.
That's about 2000 tonnes of oil (hopefully less!) that's about to inundate the lagoon. Please donate as much as you can. This is a catastrophe I have no words for.
I've had two BBC World radio interviews today and hope to share them with you when they're up. I don't like my voice very much but at least you'll know more of what's happening.
Right. Now authorities are saying it hasn't broken up, contradicting L'Express and Rezistans. What on earth is happening?
BBC World Newsroom radio interview, as from 10.11: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w172x7b98xt7jvv
And on Focus on Africa, as from 07.04. Absolute pleasure speaking to @bbcBola https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w172x1gmb378hs1
So you may see me on the BBC with a head full of hair. I am chopping it all off on Thursday to help with the cleaning efforts.
We still don't know for sure if the ship's totally broken apart or not. But we do know there's 800 tonnes of oil left on board. Let's hope that the reservoir will stay intact until tomorrow, when most of it will be pumped out.
Two more pictures from L'Express.
Oh wow, I was on BBC World News also this morning (very briefly!) I can't see the other video in News at Six because I'm not in England, but I hope it was okay.
The BBC will be interviewing Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth in the next hour.
A fisherman and a diver went out to the wreck yesterday. They said most cracks are under the water and the reservoir of oil is cracked and leaking. They said all the mangroves are dying and the corals have changed colour.
Two images by Daphney Dupré for you. I have a lot of news to get to you, so I'll just get organised and see you in 10mins.
You should also read Nishan Degnarain's excellent coverage of the disaster for @Forbes
, if you haven't yet done so. Here's why the disaster could have been averted: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nishandegnarain/2020/08/11/how-an-ocean-mission-control-could-have-prevented-the-ecological-disaster-in-mauritius/
If, by a miracle, the reservoir is still intact, and the ship still holds even by a thread, the last of the oil will be pumped out today.
The clean-up operations continue, however. On Facebook I've seen quite a few people saying they feel ill and their stomach hurts after being in contact with or smelling the oil.
Three men have developed an oil skimmer to help those in the lagoon pumping oil.
The video is from L'Express and there's a good shot of the boat, too:
At 1pm I'll be back with A LOT of thoughts on the PM's declaration to the BBC this morning. Stay tuned x
This is the gist of the situation. And also why the people's trust in the government has eroded.
Since July, Mauritius has been rocked by a series of scandals involving members of the party in power.
Contracts to buy medicine and Covid-19 medical supplies were given to those close to MPs. Some of these people didn't even have businesses in the medical industry. Here are some links: https://www.lexpress.mu/article/379818/achats-medicaments-et-dequipements-note-salee-pilule-amere
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.