Video: Tanker Ashore on Reunion Island Breaks Apart in Cyclone
The 2,924 dwt tanker Tresta Star that was driven ashore nearly three weeks by a cyclone in the Indian ocean has now broken apart with reports of an oil slick after a second cyclone struck Reunion Island on Sunday. The French territory’s prefecture confirmed reports of the vessel breaking up after an overflight of the area on Monday saying that resources had been deployed but that weather conditions remained too harsh in the area at this time.
The prefect first reported on February 18 that two oil slicks stretching nearly one mile were spotted in the area near the vessel with residents also reporting that oil was coming onshore. A tug with anti-pollution equipment was in the area. Officials reported that the oil was believed to be residue from the vessel’s empty tanks.
By Saturday, they were reporting that the vessel was showing significant damage with a breach in the port side that was exposed to the cyclonic swell. They were warning that it was likely that the vessel would break into pieces and that it could either sink there or come ashore at other points along the coast.
(News report from Reunion Island)
Jacques Billant constate les dégâts provoqués par #Batsirai.— Préfet de La Réunion (@Prefet974) February 4, 2022
???? L’État entame une phase d'évaluation pour permettre l'accompagnement des agriculteurs et du monde économique.
Une procédure pour la déclaration de catastrophe naturelle a été déclenchée par le @gouvernementFR pic.twitter.com/8YtMtbXfba
The Tresta Star, built in 2019 and registered in Mauritius, encountered another cyclone at the beginning of February. Reports suggested that the vessel blacked out during the storm causing it to be driven up on to the rocky coastline near Saint-Philippe, near Tremblet, on the southeastern coast of Reunion approximately 150 miles to the east of Mauritius. The vessel’s tanks were empty at the time.
The local government organized a daring overnight rescue between the hours of 2:00 and 4:00 a.m. on February 4 in extreme weather conditions with swells, winds, and rain to rescue the 11 crew from the tanker. They were also taken to shore exhausted but unharmed.
A salvage team arrived at the island on February 4 and reported that a first survey showed considerable damage. They said seawater was in many compartments and that there was a breach nearly 10 feet long in the engine room. Subsequent efforts attempted to remove as much of the fuel and residue in the tanks as possible. Despite the efforts, they are estimated that at least 3.5 cubic meters of fuel oil have spilled into the environment.
The last overflight of the area shows that the damage to the vessel “widened considerably in size.” The prefect now reports that the vessel has broken into pieces. Residents are reporting that life jackets, mechanical parts, and other debris have also started to come onshore.
The prefect has also renewed its formal notice to the shipowner to take all possible measures to stop the pollution. They are also being ordered to repair the environmental damage.