Leaking oil ship splits apart near protected areas off Mauritius

The grounded Japanese ship that leaked tons of oil near protected areas off the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius has split apart, officials said, with remaining fuel spreading into the turquoise waters.

Photos posted on social media by the official clean-up effort with support of the environment ministry show the ship in two pieces, "and the tugboats are already at work".

Oil barriers were in place and a skimmer ship was nearby.

Most if not all the remaining 3,000 tons of fuel had been pumped off the ship in the past week as environmental groups warned that the damage to coral reefs and once-pristine coastal areas could be irreversible.

The MV Wakashio struck a reef on July 25 and its hull began to crack after days of pounding waves.

Some 1,000 tons of fuel began to leak on August 6.

The Mauritius government is under pressure to explain why immediate action was not taken to empty the ship of its fuel.

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TOPSHOT - A man scoops leaked oil from the vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius on August 8, 2020. - France on August 8, 2020 dispatched aircraft and technical advisers from Reunion to Mauritius after the prime minister appealed for urgent assistance to contain a worsening oil spill polluting the island nation's famed reefs, lagoons and oceans. Rough seas have hampered efforts to stop fuel leaking from the bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which ran aground two weeks ago, and is staining pristine waters in an ecologically protected marine area off the south-east coast. (Photo by Jean Aurelio PRUDENCE / L'Express Maurice / AFP) (Photo by JEAN AURELIO PRUDENCE/L'Express Maurice/AFP via Getty Images)
A general view shows the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio, that ran aground on a reef, at Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius, in this handout image obtained by Reuters on August 10, 2020. French Army command/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A general view shows the bulk carrier ship MV Wakashio, that ran aground on a reef, at Riviere des Creoles, Mauritius, in this handout image obtained by Reuters on August 11, 2020. French Army command/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Two men, near Blue Bay Marine Park, look at the vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, on August 15, 2020 that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius. - A fresh streak of oil spilled on August 14, 2020, from a ship stranded on a reef in pristine waters off Mauritius, threatening further ecological devastation as demands mount for answers as to why the vessel had come so close to shore. (Photo by Fabien Dubessay / AFP) (Photo by FABIEN DUBESSAY/AFP via Getty Images)
Workers collect leaked oil at the beach in Riviere des Creoles on August 15, 2020, due to the oil leaked from vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius. - A fresh streak of oil spilled on August 14, 2020, from a ship stranded on a reef in pristine waters off Mauritius, threatening further ecological devastation as demands mount for answers as to why the vessel had come so close to shore. (Photo by Fabien Dubessay / AFP) (Photo by FABIEN DUBESSAY/AFP via Getty Images)
A picture taken on August 15, 2020 shows stained mangroves at the beach in Petit Bel Air, due to the oil leaked from vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius. - A fresh streak of oil spilled on August 14, 2020, from a ship stranded on a reef in pristine waters off Mauritius, threatening further ecological devastation as demands mount for answers as to why the vessel had come so close to shore. (Photo by Fabien Dubessay / AFP) (Photo by FABIEN DUBESSAY/AFP via Getty Images)
A picture taken on August 15, 2020 shows iridescence on the water at the beach in Petit Bel Air, due to the oil leaked from vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius. - A fresh streak of oil spilled on August 14, 2020, from a ship stranded on a reef in pristine waters off Mauritius, threatening further ecological devastation as demands mount for answers as to why the vessel had come so close to shore. (Photo by Fabien Dubessay / AFP) (Photo by FABIEN DUBESSAY/AFP via Getty Images)
A picture taken on August 15, 2020 shows the partially submerged Japanese owned Panama-flagged bulk carrier MV Wakashio at the time when the mid section of the vessel broke in two, after it ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius three weeks ago. - France on August 8, 2020 dispatched aircraft and technical advisers from Reunion to Mauritius after the prime minister appealed for urgent assistance to contain a worsening oil spill polluting the island nation's famed reefs, lagoons and oceans. Rough seas have hampered efforts to stop fuel leaking from the bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which ran aground two weeks ago, and is staining pristine waters in an ecologically protected marine area off the south-east coast. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
An aerial view taken on August 15, 2020 shows the vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged that had run aground near Blue Bay Marine Park, Mauritius three weeks ago. - A fresh streak of oil spilled on August 14, 2020, from a ship stranded on a reef in pristine waters off Mauritius, threatening further ecological devastation as demands mount for answers as to why the vessel had come so close to shore. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by STRINGER has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: Source IPTC should read [AFP] instead of [L'Express Maurice]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
An aerial view taken on August 15, 2020 shows the vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged that had run aground near Blue Bay Marine Park, Mauritius three weeks ago. - A fresh streak of oil spilled on August 14, 2020, from a ship stranded on a reef in pristine waters off Mauritius, threatening further ecological devastation as demands mount for answers as to why the vessel had come so close to shore. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by STRINGER has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: Source IPTC should read [AFP] instead of [L'Express Maurice]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
An aerial view taken on August 15, 2020 shows the vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged that had run aground near Blue Bay Marine Park, Mauritius three weeks ago. - A fresh streak of oil spilled on August 14, 2020, from a ship stranded on a reef in pristine waters off Mauritius, threatening further ecological devastation as demands mount for answers as to why the vessel had come so close to shore. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by STRINGER has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: Source IPTC should read [AFP] instead of [L'Express Maurice]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
A volunteers collects leaked oil from the MV Wakashio bulk carrier that had run aground at the beach in Bois des Amourettes, Mauritius, on August 14, 2020. - A fresh streak of oil spilled on August 14, 2020, from a ship stranded on a reef in pristine waters off Mauritius, threatening further ecological devastation as demands mount for answers as to why the vessel had come so close to shore. (Photo by Sumeet MUDHOO / L'Express Maurice / AFP) (Photo by SUMEET MUDHOO/L'Express Maurice/AFP via Getty Images)
Volunteers make oil barriers to absorb leaked oil from the MV Wakashio bulk carrier that had run aground in Mahebourg, Mauritius, on August 14, 2020. - A fresh streak of oil spilled on August 14, 2020, from a ship stranded on a reef in pristine waters off Mauritius, threatening further ecological devastation as demands mount for answers as to why the vessel had come so close to shore. (Photo by Sumeet MUDHOO / L'Express Maurice / AFP) (Photo by SUMEET MUDHOO/L'Express Maurice/AFP via Getty Images)
MV WAKASHIO, MAURITIUS -- AUGUST 12, 2020: Maxar overview satellite imagery of the MV Wakashio oil carrier that ran aground offshore of Point dEsny in Mauritius. Please use: Satellite image (c) 2020 Maxar Technologies.
Volunteers collect leaked oil from the MV Wakashio bulk carrier that had run aground at the beach in Mahebourg, southeast Mauritius, on August 12 2020. (Photo by Beekash Roopun / L'Express Maurice / AFP) (Photo by BEEKASH ROOPUN/L'Express Maurice/AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - The vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground and caused oil leakage is seen near Blue bay Marine Park in southeast Mauritius on August 11, 2020. (Photo by Sumeet Mudhoo / L'Express Maurice / AFP) (Photo by SUMEET MUDHOO/L'Express Maurice/AFP via Getty Images)
Volunteers make handmade oil barriers at the Mahébourg waterfront in Mauritius on August 12, 2020, in order to prevent a further oil spill from the MV Wakashio vessel, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that had run aground at the beach in Bambous Virieux, southeast Mauritius. (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)
Fishermen look on while they place handmade oil barriers into the sea at the Old Grand Port in Mauritius on August 11, 2020, to block leaked oil from the MV Wakashio vessel, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that had run aground at the beach in Bambous Virieux, southeast Mauritius. (Photo by Laura Morosoli / AFP) (Photo by LAURA MOROSOLI/AFP via Getty Images)
A helicopter hovers over the vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground and caused oil leakage near Blue bay Marine Park in southeast Mauritius on August 9, 2020. - France on August 8, 2020 dispatched aircraft and technical advisers from Reunion to Mauritius after the prime minister appealed for urgent assistance to contain a worsening oil spill polluting the island nation's famed reefs, lagoons and oceans. Rough seas have hampered efforts to stop fuel leaking from the bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which ran aground two weeks ago, and is staining pristine waters in an ecologically protected marine area off the south-east coast. (Photo by Daren Mauree / L'Express Maurice / AFP) (Photo by DAREN MAUREE/L'Express Maurice/AFP via Getty Images)
This aerial view taken on August 8, 2020 shows leaked oil being pushed by currents in Grand Port bay, coming from the vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius. - France on August 8, 2020 dispatched aircraft and technical advisers from Reunion to Mauritius after the prime minister appealed for urgent assistance to contain a worsening oil spill polluting the island nation's famed reefs, lagoons and oceans. Rough seas have hampered efforts to stop fuel leaking from the bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which ran aground two weeks ago, and is staining pristine waters in an ecologically protected marine area off the south-east coast. (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)
This aerial view taken on August 8, 2020 shows a large patch of leaked oil and the vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius. - France on August 8, 2020 dispatched aircraft and technical advisers from Reunion to Mauritius after the prime minister appealed for urgent assistance to contain a worsening oil spill polluting the island nation's famed reefs, lagoons and oceans. Rough seas have hampered efforts to stop fuel leaking from the bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which ran aground two weeks ago, and is staining pristine waters in an ecologically protected marine area off the south-east coast. (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)
This aerial view taken on August 8, 2020 shows leaked oil being pushed by currents towards the Grand Port bay, near the Bois des Amourettes, coming from the vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius. - France on August 8, 2020 dispatched aircraft and technical advisers from Reunion to Mauritius after the prime minister appealed for urgent assistance to contain a worsening oil spill polluting the island nation's famed reefs, lagoons and oceans. Rough seas have hampered efforts to stop fuel leaking from the bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which ran aground two weeks ago, and is staining pristine waters in an ecologically protected marine area off the south-east coast. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
MAHEBOURG, Aug. 10, 2020 -- Photo taken on Aug. 8, 2020 shows rocks covered with oil at a coastal area in Mahebourg, Mauritius. Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency due to an oil spill on Aug. 7, according to a statement issued on the same day after a cabinet meeting. The oil spill was caused by a Japanese freighter that ran aground offshore on July 26. (Photo by Ajai Daby/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/ via Getty Images)
This photograph taken on August 7, 2020, shows workers (L) as they look from a ship towards the vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius on August 7, 2020. - France on August 8, 2020 dispatched aircraft and technical advisers from Reunion to Mauritius after the prime minister appealed for urgent assistance to contain a worsening oil spill polluting the island nation's famed reefs, lagoons and oceans. Rough seas have hampered efforts to stop fuel leaking from the bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which ran aground two weeks ago, and is staining pristine waters in an ecologically protected marine area off the south-east coast. (Photo by Daren Mauree / L'Express Maurice / AFP) (Photo by DAREN MAUREE/L'Express Maurice/AFP via Getty Images)
This general view taken on August 7, 2020, shows the vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius. - France on August 8, 2020 dispatched aircraft and technical advisers from Reunion to Mauritius after the prime minister appealed for urgent assistance to contain a worsening oil spill polluting the island nation's famed reefs, lagoons and oceans. Rough seas have hampered efforts to stop fuel leaking from the bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which ran aground two weeks ago, and is staining pristine waters in an ecologically protected marine area off the south-east coast. (Photo by Daren Mauree / L'Express Maurice / AFP) (Photo by DAREN MAUREE/L'Express Maurice/AFP via Getty Images)
This aerial view taken on August 8, 2020 shows the Pointe d'Esny, and the Grand Port in the background, with a large patch of leaked oil and the vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius. - France on August 8, 2020 dispatched aircraft and technical advisers from Reunion to Mauritius after the prime minister appealed for urgent assistance to contain a worsening oil spill polluting the island nation's famed reefs, lagoons and oceans. Rough seas have hampered efforts to stop fuel leaking from the bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which ran aground two weeks ago, and is staining pristine waters in an ecologically protected marine area off the south-east coast. (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)
This aerial view taken on August 6, 2020 shows a large patch of leaked oil from the vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius. - France on August 8, 2020 dispatched aircraft and technical advisers from Reunion to Mauritius after the prime minister appealed for urgent assistance to contain a worsening oil spill polluting the island nation's famed reefs, lagoons and oceans. Rough seas have hampered efforts to stop fuel leaking from the bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which ran aground two weeks ago, and is staining pristine waters in an ecologically protected marine area off the south-east coast. (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)
This aerial view taken on August 8, 2020 shows a large patch of leaked oil and the vessel MV Wakashio (Back), belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius. - France on August 8, 2020 dispatched aircraft and technical advisers from Reunion to Mauritius after the prime minister appealed for urgent assistance to contain a worsening oil spill polluting the island nation's famed reefs, lagoons and oceans. Rough seas have hampered efforts to stop fuel leaking from the bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which ran aground two weeks ago, and is staining pristine waters in an ecologically protected marine area off the south-east coast. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
This aerial view taken on August 8, 2020 shows cleaning operations of leaked oil from the vessel MV Wakashio, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that ran aground near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of south-east Mauritius. - France on August 8, 2020 dispatched aircraft and technical advisers from Reunion to Mauritius after the prime minister appealed for urgent assistance to contain a worsening oil spill polluting the island nation's famed reefs, lagoons and oceans. Rough seas have hampered efforts to stop fuel leaking from the bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which ran aground two weeks ago, and is staining pristine waters in an ecologically protected marine area off the south-east coast. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
A fisherman places handmade oil barriers into the sea at the Old Grand Port in Mauritius on August 11, 2020, to block leaked oil from the MV Wakashio vessel, belonging to a Japanese company but Panamanian-flagged, that had run aground at the beach in Bambous Virieux, southeast Mauritius. (Photo by Laura Morosoli / AFP) (Photo by LAURA MOROSOLI/AFP via Getty Images)
Volunteers collect seaweed mixed with leaked oil from the MV Wakashio bulk carrier that had run aground at the beach in Bois des Amourettes, Mauritius, on August 13, 2020. - Mauritius avoided a second catastrophic oil spill on August 12, 2020, after salvage crews pumped the remaining fuel from the tanks of a cargo ship that ran aground off its coast, imperilling world-famous wildlife sanctuaries. (Photo by Beekash Roopun / L'Express Maurice / AFP) (Photo by BEEKASH ROOPUN/L'Express Maurice/AFP via Getty Images)
MAHEBOURG, Aug. 10, 2020 -- Volunteers transport a nylon net to help prevent the spread of an oil spill in Mahebourg, Mauritius, on Aug. 8, 2020. Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency due to an oil spill on Aug. 7, according to a statement issued on the same day after a cabinet meeting. The oil spill was caused by a Japanese freighter that ran aground offshore on July 26. (Photo by Ajai Daby/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/ via Getty Images)
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The country's prime minister Pravind Jugnauth earlier blamed bad weather for the slow response.

Owner Nagashiki Shipping has said "residual" amounts of fuel remained on the ship after pumping.

It is investigating why the ship went off course.

The ship was meant to stay at least 10 miles from shore.

The company has sent experts to help in cleaning up the damage.

The Mauritius government is seeking compensation from the company.

After the government declared an environmental emergency, thousands of volunteers rushed to the shore to create makeshift oil barriers from tunnels of fabric stuffed with sugar cane leaves and even human hair, with empty soda bottles tucked in to keep them afloat.

The country of some 1.3 million people relies heavily on tourism and already had taken a severe hit with coronavirus pandemic travel restrictions.

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