A tanker loaded with 20,000 tonnes of rocks has been accused of damaging a pristine coral reef as it sailed to Mexico.
Furious environmentalists say the ship damaged the protected reef when it dropped anchor off Puerto Morelos, a town on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.
Images shot by divers reportedly show the giant anchor of the Cuban freighter Melody lying on top of the damaged coral.
Environmentalist and diver Alberto Friscione says the ship was damaging a pristine marine reserve, home to a host of protected species.
Friscione said the tanker moved on after he filed a complaint with the authorities.
He explained: “The ship moved to an area, now assigned by Conanp (National Commission of Protected Natural Areas) where there is a larger sandbank and there are much fewer species than where it was previously.”
The vessel was reportedly carrying 20,000 tonnes of porphyrite, a type of rock to be used as ballast on Mexico’s controversial ‘Mayan Train’ (‘Tren Maya’) project.
The pet project of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a 1,500-kilometre railway loop is being built around the Yucatan Peninsula to carry both tourists and locals.
It has caused outrage among indigenous groups and environmentalists who say it will damage the jungle.
Local celebrities, including comedian Eugenio Derbez, singers Ruben Albarran and Natalia Lafourcade, and actress Kate del Castillo have also joined the cause.
Archaeologists have also voiced concern, with thousands of artefacts and ancient structures unearthed since the project began.
Last year, Greenpeace activists tied themselves to building machinery to protest about jungle being cut down without proper environmental impact studies.
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