Mauritius Arrests Captain Of Japanese Oil Tanker That Ran Aground, Causing Massive Oil Spill

The captain of a Japanese oil tanker that ran aground off the coast of Mauritius on July 25, causing a devastating oil spill in one of the world's cleanest ocean environments, is now under arrest.

Additionally, International Tankers Owners Pollution Federation Ltd and Le Floch Depollution will both begin cleaning 3 sites on the country's shoreline that were affected, joining local efforts from fishermen, according to Reuters.

The tanker, MV Wakashio struck coral reef off the coast of the Indian Ocean and began to spill oil on August 6. As a result, Mauritius announced a state of environmental emergency. The spill spread over a "vast area of endangered corals" according to the report. Some are calling it the country's "worst ecological disaster". 

Inspector Siva Coothen said: 

“We have arrested the captain of the vessel and another member of the crew. After having been heard by the court they have been denied bail and are still in detention.”

The country's coast guard had "repeatedly tried to reach the ship" in order to warn it about its dangerous course. They said they received no reply. 

An official for Mauritius said:

“The route set five days before the crash was wrong and the boat navigation system should have signalled that to the crew and it seems the crew ignored it. The boat did also fail to send out an SOS (when it ran aground), and did not respond to attempts by the coastguard to get in touch.”

The crew had been questioned about whether or not they were having a birthday party on board but, so far, there have been no definitive answers. There were also scattered reports that the ship was moving closer to the shoreline to find a Wifi signal or a cell phone signal; those reports have also not been confirmed. 

The deputy captain was also arrested. Emergency crews were able to remove most of the ship's remaining oil before it split in two on Saturday.