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Oil Spill In Mauritius Turns Crystal Clear Indian Ocean Black (Photos)

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Thousands of volunteers in Mauritius are racing to contain a catastrophic oil spill swamping its pristine ocean and beaches on Sunday.

The bulk carrier MV Wakashio ran aground two weeks ago and has been seeping fuel into a protected marine park boasting unspoiled coral reefs, mangrove forests and endangered species, prompting the government to declare an unprecedented environmental emergency.

Attempts to stabilise the stricken vessel, which ran aground on July 25 but only started leaking oil this week, and pump 4,000 tonnes of fuel from its hold have failed, and local authorities fear rough seas could further rupture the tanker.

Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said response crews had managed to stymie the leak for now, but were bracing for the worst. The cracks have grown. The situation is even worse,’ he told reporters late Sunday. ‘The risk of the boat breaking in half still exists.’

Japan said Sunday it would send a six-member expert team to assist, joining France which dispatched a naval vessel and military aircraft from nearby Reunion Island after Mauritius issued an appeal for international help.

Thousands of volunteers, many smeared head-to-toe in black sludge, are marshalling along the coastline, stringing together miles of improvised floating barriers made of straw in a desperate attempt to hold back the oily tide.

Mitsui OSK Lines, which operates the vessel owned by another Japanese company, said Sunday that 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil had escaped so far.

‘We are terribly sorry,’ the shipping firm’s vice president, Akihiko Ono, told reporters in Tokyo, promising to ‘make all-out efforts to resolve the case’.

But conservationists say the damage could already be done.

Aerial images show the enormous scale of the disaster, with huge stretches of azure seas around the marooned cargo ship stained a deep inky black, and the region’s fabled lagoons and inlets clouded over.

Thick muck has inundated unspoiled marine habitats and white-sand beaches, causing what experts say is irreparable damage to the fragile coastal ecosystem upon which Mauritius and its economy relies.

Pressure is mounting on the government to explain why more wasn’t done in the two weeks since the bulker ran aground.

The opposition has called for the resignation of the environment and fisheries ministers, while volunteers have ignored an official order to leave the clean-up operation to local authorities, donning rubber gloves to sift through the sludge.

‘People by the thousands are coming together. No one is listening to the government anymore,’ said Ashok Subron, an environmental activist at Mahebourg, one of the worst-hit areas.

‘People have realised that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora.’

Police said Sunday they would execute a search warrant granted by a Mauritius court to board the Wakashio and seize items of interest, including the ship’s log book and communication as part of its investigation into the accident.

The ship’s captain, a 58-year-old Indian, will accompany officers on the search, police said. Twenty crew members evacuated safely from the Japanese-owned but Panamanian-flagged ship when it ran aground are under surveillance.

Prime Minister Jugnauth has convened a crisis meeting later Sunday, after expressing concern that forecast bad weather could further complicate efforts to stymie the spill, and cause more structural damage to the hull.

The slick has already begun drifting further up the coast, fanned along by strong winds and currents.

‘I think it’s already too late. If the ship breaks in two, the situation will be out of control,’ Vassen Kauppaymuthoo, an oceanographer and environmental engineer, told AFP.

‘We’re talking about a major disaster that is progressing, and it’s getting more complicated hour by hour.’

Mauritius and its 1.3 million inhabitants depend crucially on the sea for ecotourism, having fostered a reputation as a conservation success story and a world-class destination for nature lovers.

The spill is a double blow for tourist operators who had hoped foreign tourists could soon return to Mauritius. The Indian Ocean nation has no active cases of coronavirus, and had declared wary victory after a long stretch without any new infections.

But it also relies on its natural bounty for food and income. Seafarers in Mahebourg, where the once-spotless seas have turned a sickly brown, worried about the future.

‘Fishing is our only activity. We don’t know how we will be able to feed our families,’ one fishermen, who gave his name only as Michael, told AFP

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Chelsea boss Lampard ready to send Kepa away on-loan

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Chelsea boss Frank Lampard is ready to send Kepa Arrizabalaga away on-loan.

The Sun says Chelsea are ready to send Kepa out on loan after landing Rennes keeper Edouard Mendy as their new first-choice.

While Chelsea insisted no decision has yet been taken on Kepa’s future, it is understood that Frank Lampard will assent to the Spaniard leaving on loan before next month’s deadline.

Kepa, 25, has struggled to live up to the world record £71m fee Chelsea paid Athletic Bilbao to land him as Thibaut Courtois’ replacement in 2018.

He fell out of favour last term after a series of high-profile errors before the lockdown.

And while the Spaniard regained his place at the outset of Project Restart, he lost it again to Willy Caballero for the FA Cup semi-final and Final.

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Michaela Abam’s hat-trick leads Real Betis to Andalusian Cup semi-final

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The Cameroonian found the net thrice as she powered her side past Hispalis to the last four of the pre-season tournament

Michaela Abam hit a treble for Real Betis as they trashed Hispalis 10-0 in Thursday’s Andalusian Women’s Cup quarterfinal encounter.

Despite featuring in 15 matches for Betis, the Cameroon international managed only three goals before the league’s cancellation in May due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Abam starred and Equatorial Guinea’s Dorine Chuigoue made her debut in Betis’ 2-0 win over Granada in their first friendly on Sunday.

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Tottenham Advance To Europa League Play-off After Scare

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Son Heung-min scored one and set up two as Tottenham advanced to the Europa League play-off round after a scare against Shkendija in North Macedonia.

Son, who scored four goals against Southampton last Sunday, turned provider to set up Argentine Erik Lamela to calmly score the opener.

Joe Hart, who was making his Spurs debut, was beaten by a stunning 20-yard finish by Valmir Nafiu.

But Son drilled the second before setting up Harry Kane for the third.

It was a decent performance by Jose Mourinho’s side, who meet Maccabi Haifa at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the play-off round next Thursday.

However, they went from dominating the tie to hanging on before two goals in the space of nine minutes put the game out of Shkendija’s reach.

Soon after Nafiu’s wonderful equaliser from outside the box, Besart Ibraimi had a chance to put the hosts ahead but headed wide.

Spurs regained control thanks mainly to another excellent performance by Son.

Having scored four of his side’s five goals at Southampton last Sunday, the South Korea forward produced another classy performance to help his side advance.

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