3 Dead In Mauritius As Wakashio Support Vessel Sinks In Coral Lagoon Towing Oil Barge
This is a breaking news story and will be updated with the latest developments.
Update: overnight reports had initially indicated the oil barge had sunk. Video taken by local fishermen on 1 September morning revealed the oil barge drifting unattached along the coast of Mauritius. There was no satellite anti-collision tracking transponder on the oil barge. On 1 September 2020, 4 members of the tugboat crew had been rescued, 3 members had been confirmed dead and 1 is still 1 missing.
In an incredible new development overnight on Monday 31 August, a major operation is underway in Mauritius as a barge carrying oil from the stricken Japanese iron-ore vessel The Wakashio collided with a tug boat pulling it.
The tug boat - which had been involved in the Wakashio salvage operation - has sunk in the coral lagoon and a major operation is underway to rescue the 8 crew from the water under darkness.
There is still much confusion about the circumstances and events of the sinking.
According to reports from local media present on the scene, the Mauritius Port Authority tug boat, called the ‘Sir Gaetan Duval,’ was towing the oil barge back to the harbor capital city, Port Louis.
It had been travelling from the location of the Wakashio oil spill in Pointe d’Esny in the South East of the country, and was heading North around the island.
Both vessels appeared to be around 30 miles North of the original crash site of the Wakashio when they ran into trouble. This is around 20 miles North of where dozens of whales and dolphins had washed up dead on Mauritius’ coasts in the past few days.
According to a statement released by the Mauritian Port Authority, the oil barge was called the ‘l’Ami Constant’ and owned by Mauritian maritime services company, Taylor Smith. The statement also confirmed that the vessel was transporting oil from the Wakashio.
Satellite tracking of the ‘Sir Gaetan Duval’ boat reveal the unsteady path following the collision.
The 'Sir Gaetan Duval' Tug boat (seen here in Port Louis) sunk on 31 August whilst supporting the Wakashio operation and towing an oil barge carrying oil from the Japanese vessel responsible for a major oil spill. - GETTY