A massive oil spill off the coast of Tobago island which has turned the beaches black is 'not under control', the countries' Prime Minister said.
The spill was caused after a mystery 300ft-long vessel capsized on Wednesday in waters off the Caribbean island, having made no emergency calls, with no sign of crew, and no clear sign of ownership.
The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley, declared a national emergency today as oil leaking from the vessel affected some ten miles of coastline.
'Cleaning and restoration can only begin as soon as we have the situation under control. Right now the situation is not under control,' the prime minister told journalists.
Divers have so far been unable to plug the leak that caused the beautiful white beaches of Tobago island to turn black.
Hundreds of volunteers have been toiling since Thursday to halt the spread of the oil, and the government has asked for even more to lend a hand.
The leak has damaged a reef and Atlantic beaches, and residents of the village of Lambeau have been advised to wear masks or temporarily relocate.
The spill comes at the height of Carnival, threatening the tourist business that is crucial to the dual-island nation's economy.
Just how badly tourism will be affected remains unclear. A cruise ship carrying 3,000 people docked in Tobago on Sunday.
Rowley said the mystery vessel might have been involved in 'illicit' business, adding: 'We don't know who it belongs to. We have no idea where it came from, and we also don't know all that it contains.'
Divers spotted the name 'Gulfstream' on the craft's side and have identified a length of cable, possibly indicating it was in the process of being towed, Rowley said.
The island's Emergency Management Agency said there were no signs of life on the vessel.
'Tobago was never ever ready for this kind of a spill; you're talking about an island that does not have sufficient amount of booms, an island that doesn't have storage, adequate storage capacity for this kind of oil or for toxic material,' the Chief Secretary of Tobago's House of Assembly, Farley Chavez, told local media.
'We never prepared for this as an eventuality.'Read more 2024-02-11T22:10:07Z dg43tfdfdgfd