Mauritians protest against government’s handling of a massive oil spill after discovery of 39 dead dolphins

Thousands of Mauritians took part in a march in capital, Port Louis, against the authorities’ handling of a massive oil spill, and the discovery of 39 dead dolphins.

Demonstrators dressed in black, carried national flags called on the government to resign. Many t-shirts with the inscription: “I love my country. I’m ashamed of my government.”

It is the biggest protest the country has seen in recent years.

About 1,000 tonnes of oil spilled into a sanctuary for rare wildlife after the Japanese ship MV Wakashio struck a coral reef on 25 July.

Many Mauritians believe the government could have done more to prevent the spill. There is also criticism over the decision to deliberately sink part of the ship after it split in two.

The ship approached the coastline for 12-days, the government didn’t do anything until the oil spill began, a protester said. “I am present today because we want the truth.”

The government has promised to set up a commission to investigate the spill.

The captain of the ship has been arrested and charged with endangering safe navigation.

It is not yet clear what caused the death of the dolphins, who were found washed up on the shore this week.

Experts have examined two of the dolphins’ bodies and say they had bite marks from sharks but could find no trace of hydrocarbons in their bodies.

Environmental campaigners have demanded an independent investigation, saying they were either killed as a direct result of the spill or when it was scuttled.

Tourism is a major industry in the Indian Ocean island nation, and the spill has been a massive blow to the country, coming on top of the coronavirus pandemic, which has restricted international travel.