Rescue workers 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 Rowley, who added that the country was 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 sign 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 the situation is 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. Images and videos released by the government showed crews working late into the night on Sunday.
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 published satellite images 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.
Rowley said the mysterious vessel may have been involved in “illicit” business, adding: “We don’t know who it belongs to. We have no idea where it comes from, nor do we know everything it contains.
Divers spotted the name “Gulfstream” on the side of the craft and identified a length of cable, possibly indicating it was being towed, Rowley said.
The island’s emergency management agency said there were no signs of life on the ship, which is about 330 feet long. The agency posted dozens of images and videos on social media showing the ship and its crews scrambling to contain and clean up the oil spill.
Note: The content and images used in this article is rewritten and sourced from www.cbsnews.com