The largest oil spill in the history of Trinidad and Tobago occurred on Sunday due to an upturned vessel, which the prime minister of the Caribbean island declared a “national emergency.”

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) of Tobago Island reports that the spill happened on February 7 off its southern coast. The organization stated in a statement on Saturday that about nine miles or fifteen kilometers of the coastline “is now blackened.”Images from the site show large stretches of the beach coated in oil, with recovery teams slogging through thick black sludge. At least 1,000 volunteers and numerous government organizations have been attempting to contain the spill. At a press conference on Sunday, Prime Minister Keith Rowley stated that “the situation is not under control.” He also said that the vessel’s origins are still unknown.We don’t know the entire extent and magnitude of what would be necessary, Rowley said, adding, “Wetness this is a national emergency and thus it will have to be funded as an extraordinary expense.”According to Tobago House of Assembly chief secretary Farley Augustine, authorities put up booms, or floating barriers, to stop the spill from spreading. Divers have been sent by officials in an attempt to stop the leak, but they haven’t been successful.

“What needs to happen is that we need to figure out how to extract all of the oil that is within the ship, keeping in mind that we do not know the ship’s schematics,” Augustine said to reporters. BCE has requested a statement from the prime minister’s office.”Since we can only see the vessel’s keel, we’re unsure if it’s a freighter, tanker, or barge. Additionally, its distinctive physical traits are currently submerged under water that we are unable to access,” Rowley stated on Sunday.However, we are aware that it seems to have cracked after making contact with this place and is releasing some sort of hydrocarbon that is contaminating the ocean and the shoreline,” he continued.According to local media, residents in the Lambeau region complained about a persistent stink from the spill, which had some of them concerned for their health.The Tobago House of Assembly’s chief secretary, Augustine, suggested mask use and “self-relocation or find ways to mitigate against that” for people suffering from respiratory conditions. One of the main travel seasons in the nation, Carnival, coincided with the spill.The prime minister stated, “Tobago’s tourism industry is the best part of the country’s economy, so it is important that we be cognizant that we don’t expose the tourism product to this kind of thing and because this has happened, we have to contain it.”

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