Men and their big toys

Island Dynamics’ first post!

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Mauritius  is a small island (population of roughly 1.3 million) in the Indian Ocean, neighbour to Madagascar off the East coast of Africa. The island is most famously known for its white sand beaches, azure-coloured sea, as a honeymoon destination or lately as a new tax haven. The island has one major harbour in its capital city Port-Louis on the West, North-West coast. And for that reason, locals of a village called Le Bouchon (South, South-East) woke up with a huge surprise; a massive cargo ship wrecked on their shore!

The MV Benita is (or rather was) a bulk carrier of 181.5m x 30.5m and a deadweight of 44 000 tons. But Google can tell you all that. Let’s get straight to the story.

From what was reported in the press, the ship captain sent for a distress call at 23H50 (local time i.e. UTC +4) on Thursday 16th June. Fishermen reported that the ship wrecked at Le Bouchon public beach. If it wasn’t for the rocky shoreline just a few meters away from the white sand, the ship would have landed on the public beach.

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With more than 125 tons of fuel on board, it was a major environmental concern. The MV Benita was heading towards South Africa from India when a mutiny was reported on board. There were reports of a member of the crew being carried to a nearby hospital by helicopter. Only problem is that according to gcaptain  the insurer claims the crew member had a “serious medical episode”.

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It took a while and a bunch of international experts to be able to free the ship. Helicopters took some fuel off the ship and carried it to a nearby football ground. In doing so, one helicopter nearly crashed… see the video below.

36 days after the wreck, the ship was finally dislodged. Although explosives were considered, only mechanical power were used. Five Oceans Salvage seems to be the company tasked with the delicate operation. The ship was to be towed to India for destruction.

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Tough luck, merely 93.5 nautical miles (about 170 km) off the coast of Mauritius and the ship sunk 4 400m down. The brave towing vessel remained on site to monitor for any signs of pollution.

Although booms (floating barriers) were set, it didn’t stop the oil slick from reaching the beach.

Mutiny or not, some might say a horrible disaster was averted while others can say this was a horrible disaster. What are your thoughts? Leave us a comment below!

WebPhile

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