A mysterious wreck causes a catastrophic oil spill off Trinidad | Environmental News

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Emergency workers in Trinidad and Tobago are scrambling to clean up a major oil spill after a mystery ship ran aground near the Caribbean island, disrupting Carnival tourism.

Prime Minister Keith Rowley on Sunday declared a national emergency as an oil leak from the ship affected about 15km (nearly 10 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,” Rowley told reporters.

Environmental officials said the spill has damaged the Atlantic reef and beaches, a very bad sign for the island’s resorts and hotels which are a lifeline to the local economy during Carnival.

Divers have so far been able to plug the leak. They saw the Gulfstream name on the side of the craft and marked a length of cable, possibly indicating it was being towed, Rowley said.

The ship sank on February 7 off the coast of the Cove Eco-Industrial Park in southern Tobago, and has been dragged ashore by currents.

When it was seen on Wednesday, the vessel was sailing under an unknown flag and did not make any emergency calls.

The island’s Emergency Management Group said there was no sign of life on the ship, as it was initially believed that the cargo was sand and wood.

The spill comes at the height of Carnival, threatening the tourism industry which is vital to the economy of the two-island country.

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