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The large 203,130 dwt bulk carrier Wakashio has run hard aground in an environmentally sensitive area off the east coast of Mauritius, on Saturday evening.

The 300-meter, Panamanian-flagged vessel was sailing under ballast without cargo through a major shipping lane in the Indian Ocean when it went off course and grounded on the reefs of Pointe d'Esny, while en route from China to Brazil. Its last port call was in Singapore.

The cause of the grounding is unknown. Weather at the time was clear, and there have been no reports of mechanical failure.

There were 20 crew on board at the time of the incident, and no injuries have been reported.

The ship's hull has remain undamaged, though the engine room was flooded due to a ruptured water hose pipe. 

Local authorities are monitoring the situation and are developing a plan to refloat the Japanese owned bulker, which was built in 2007 and is managed by Okiyo Maritime Corp. / Nagashiki Shipping. Dutch company Smit Salvage and local counterpart CELERO have signed a salvage agreement with the shipowner, according to Kavydass Ramano, Mauritius' Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change.

The ship is carrying 3,894 metric tons of low sulphur fuel oil, 207 metric tons of diesel and 90 metric tons of lubricant oil on board, and "slight traces" of oil have been observed near the vessel, according to local media. The Mauritius National Coast Guard believes the trace amounts of oil found on nearby algae originated from the engine room, and Ramano confirmed no other spills have been found. 

Authorities are considering lightering all oil from Wakashio prior to refloating efforts.

Two tugs are traveling to the scene, including one from South Africa and another from Singapore. The latter, which is carrying oil spill response equipment and a team of 10 salvage workers, will make a stop at Renunion island to pick up another six crew members before expected arrival on Wednesday. A third tug will be available on standby.

Source: MarineLink