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Environment

Japan to send team to Mauritius to assist in oil spill

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japanese Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi said on Saturday Tokyo planned to send a team of officials from the ministry and other specialists to Mauritius to assess the damage from an oil spill.

A Japanese bulk carrier struck a coral reef off Mauritius on July 25, spilling about 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil and triggering a state of "environmental emergency" in what some scientists call the country's worst ecological disaster.

On Friday, some residual oil from the ship leaked into the ocean, said Mauritius Marine Conservation Society President Jacqueline Sauzier. "Booms have been placed around the ship to contain the spill," she said.

Most of the oil from the MV Wakashio have been pumped out, the Mauritian government said on Thursday, but 166 tonnes of fuel oil were still inside the bulk carrier and authorities were working to remove them.

Removing the ship will be a delicate operation and is likely to take months. France, which once ruled Mauritius as a colony, has said it will assist with the cleanup.

Koizumi also told reporters on Saturday he saw the oil spill as a grave crisis that could lead to a loss of biodiversity. The ship, MV Wakashio, is owned by Japan's Nagashiki Shipping and chartered by Mitsui OSK Lines.

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