Death Takes The Lagoon – Ariel Saramandi on the sinking of the MV Wakashio off the coast of Mauritius

Grainy pictures flash on our phones on the night of 25 July. A ship’s crashed on the reef in Pointe d’Esny, the messages read. I pinch and splay the photos with my fingers. I can make out the ship’s frame, yellow glimmers of light, but not much else.

We set out to see the ship for ourselves the next day. There’s only one coastal road in Pointe d’Esny and it is clogged. People from around the island have driven to see the ship. They’ve parked their cars at random – there are no proper parking spaces here.

‘This is what happens when you try to block public access to the beach,’ I tell my husband Antoine. Pointe d’Esny is infamously exclusive. The superbly wealthy inhabitants of this stretch of coast would like the beach to be as private as possible. To get to the public beach you must cross the road and walk through a narrow path set between two grand houses, described only last year by a newspaper as a ‘corridor of shame’.1 Once there you deal with the infuriated faces of some of the residents, who make a point of walking up and down the shore. Some of my friends have been harassed by bungalow owners and their dogs, screamed away. But no screams can turn this crowd away, nor the weather – battering winds and rain can’t stop us from congregating on the beach to watch the wreck.

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