Approximately 1,000t of fuel oil has spilt from MV Wakashio, a stranded Japanese ship, in Mauritius last week.

The ship was carrying approximately 4,000t of fuel and was reported to have ‘ran aground’ on 25 July on a coral reef due to the bad weather.

MV Wakashio started to break apart, following which it was leaking oil after a large cut appeared on its side.

Forbes reported that the location of the ship’s grounding is near ‘two internationally protected UNESCO Ramsar sites for wetlands’.

The spill is considered to be the worst oil spill in the history of the island and has the potential to lead to the extinction of rare plant and wildlife species.

Government, volunteers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have made barriers with straw and other particles to reduce the spread of the spill.

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BBC reported that on 7 August, Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of emergency. He appealed to France for help as the country does not have the skills to refloat the stranded ship.

France President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “When biodiversity is in danger, there is an urgent need to act. France is there. Alongside the Mauritian people. You can count on our dear support @PKJugnauth. We are now deploying teams and equipment from Reunion Island.”

The ship is owned and managed by Nagashiki Shipping and time chartered to Mitsui OSK Lines. It operates under a flag of convenience of Panama.

In a statement, MOL stated: “Oil prevention measures are in place and an oil boom has been deployed around the vessel. International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) is advising the owner, salvage team and the government on the pollution and possible effects.

“The owner and its P+I Club have contracted a specialist oil response and salvage team who are coordinating with the Mauritian authorities to mitigate the effects of any pollution.

“Nagashiki Shipping takes its environmental responsibilities extremely seriously and will take every effort with partner agencies and contractors to protect the marine environment and prevent further pollution.”