Rescuers in Trinidad and Tobago are racing to clean up a massive oil spill after a mysterious ship ran aground near the Caribbean island, casting a pall over carnival tourism.
The oil spill was “not under control” on Sunday, said Prime Minister Keith Rowleywho add that the country is in the grip of a national emergency.
The mysterious vessel capsized in the waters off the Caribbean island on Wednesday, without having made any emergency calls, with no sign of crew and no clear signs of ownership.
Rowley declared a national emergency on Sunday as oil leaks from the ship affected nearly 10 miles of coastline.
“Cleaning and restoration can only begin as soon as we have the situation under control. For now, the situation is not under control,” the prime minister told reporters.
Divers have so far been unable to plug the leak.
Hundreds of volunteers have mobilized since Thursday to stop the spread of the oil, and the government has asked for even more to help. Pictures And video released by the government showed crews working late into Sunday night.
The leak damaged a reef and beaches in the Atlantic, and residents in the village of Lambeau were advised to wear masks or temporarily relocate.
The government satellite images published on social media, showing the affected areas.
“Satellite imagery reveals a distinctive silver slick emanating from the overturned wreckage. Additionally, visible streaks of a thick, black substance accompany the spill,” the post said.
The oil spill comes at the height of the carnival, threatening tourism activity which is crucial to the economy of this two-island country.
It is unclear to what extent tourism will be affected. A cruise ship carrying 3,000 people docked in Tobago on Sunday.