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Mauritius oil spill: Thousands march in Port Louis



image copyrightAFP

image captionThe protesters called for the government to resign

Thousands of people have marched through the Mauritian capital, Port Louis, in protest at the authorities’ handling of a massive oil spill, and the discovery of 39 dead dolphins.

Many wore black and waved the national flag, while honking horns and drumming.

Many called for the government to resign and had T-shirts with the inscription: “I love my country. I’m ashamed of my government.”

It is the biggest protest the country has seen in recent years.

About 1,000 tonnes of oil spilled into a sanctuary for rare wildlife after the Japanese ship MV Wakashio struck a coral reef on 25 July.

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At Saturday’s protest, one woman told the BBC: “I am present today because we want the truth.

“They didn’t do anything when the ship approached our coastline – 12 days they didn’t do anything until the oil spill and now thousands of people and marine people are affected.”

The government has promised to set up a commission to investigate the spill.

The captain of the ship has been arrested and charged with endangering safe navigation. He has not yet commented.

image copyrightReuters
image captionThe MV Wakashio struck a coral reef near a sanctuary for rare wildlife on 25 July

It is not yet clear what caused the death of the dolphins, who were found washed up on the shore this week.

Experts have examined two of the dolphins’ bodies and say they had bite marks from sharks but could find no trace of hydrocarbons in their bodies.

Environmental campaigners have demanded an independent investigation, saying they were either killed as a direct result of the spill or from injuries sustained when the ship split in two and part of it was deliberately sunk.

Tourism is a major industry in the Indian Ocean island nation, and the spill has been a massive blow to the country, coming on top of the coronavirus pandemic, which has restricted international travel.

media captionAt least 1,000 tonnes of oil is thought to have leaked into waters near Mauritius

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