A kilometer-long oil slick has been threatening the coast of Trinidad and Tobago for several days, prompting the government of the small Caribbean country to declare a state of emergency on Sunday. Prime Minister Keith Rowley said cleanup work could only begin once the situation was under control, which was not yet the case on Sunday. Nevertheless, hundreds of volunteers are working to contain the spread of the oil slick.

Tjerk Brühwiller

Latin America correspondent based in São Paulo.

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    The oil slick was caused by a mysterious unflagged ship called the Gulfstream, which capsized off the southern coast of Tobago on Wednesday and was pulled towards the coast by the current. There is no trace of the crew of the ship, of which only the keel can be seen.

    “We don’t know who owns the ship.”

    She apparently had not made an emergency call before the accident. “We don’t know who owns the ship. “We have no idea where it came from and we don’t know what’s on the ship,” said Rowley, who did not rule out the possibility that the ship was used for “illegal operations.”

    Divers discovered the name “Gulfstream” on the side of the ship and a piece of cable that may indicate the ship was in the process of being towed. The ship was originally said to have loaded gravel and sand.

    On Sunday, divers were unable to seal the leak on the ship from which the oil was leaking. The oil slick not only threatens the sensitive ecosystem, but also tourism in the country, which has a population of 1.4 million. Carnival week began this weekend, the most important season for tourism in Trinidad and Tobago.

    Many resorts and hotels in Tobago have been affected by the oil spill. Authorities have urged tourists not to bathe in the contaminated areas. Lambeau Village residents have been advised to wear masks or temporarily relocate. Despite the emergency situation, a cruise ship with 3,000 passengers docked in Tobago on Sunday.