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Trinidad & Tobago Declares National Emergency after Ghost Ship Oil Spill

The prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago has declared a “national emergency” following a large offshore oil spill in the eastern Caribbean. 

“This is a national emergency and therefore it will have to be funded as an extraordinary expense,” Rowley said. 

“We don’t know the full scope and scale of what is going to be required,” the prime minister added. 

The oil spill was caused when a vessel overturned near Tobago last week, with the cause of the accident still under investigation, with the country’s disaster authorities saying the coastline had been “blackened”.

Authorities have said that the leak had not been contained still as of early Monday afternoon ET. Despite thousands of volunteers, the situation was still not under control, according to authorities. 

The economy of Trinidad and Tobago relies heavily on tourism, and analysts are concerned the oil spill could heavily impact the balance sheet. 

The vessel–whose origins remain a mystery–made no emergency calls, and there is no sign of any crew, CBS News reports. 

“We’re not sure if it’s a freighter, a tanker, or a barge because only the keel of the vessel is visible. And its identifying physical characteristics are in water that we can’t penetrate for the moment,” Rowley said.

The prime minister suggested the unknown vessel may have been involved in “illicit” activities, while the discovery of a towing cable attached to the ship suggested it was potentially being towed somewhere. 

Rowley said on Sunday that the owner of the overturned vessel had still not been identified, nor is the extent of the damage clear yet. So far, reports note damage to a reef and Atlantic beaches, with residents of one village advised to evacuate or wear masks. 

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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