The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius is in the grip of an environmental emergency as authorities struggle to contain a growing oil spill from a cargo ship that ran aground near the handsome Blue Bay Marine Park.
MV Wakashio ran aground on a coral reef off the Indian Ocean island on 25 July.
The Mauritius government declared a state of environmental emergency on Friday over a large amount of fuel that leaked into the sea from a stranded Japanese-owned bulk carrier off the country's coast.
The oil spill "represents a danger" for the almost 1.3 million residents of Mauritius, after cracks have appeared in the ship's hull.
Japan said Sunday it would send a six-member expert team to assist, joining France which dispatched a naval vessel and military aircraft from nearby Reunion Island after Mauritius issued an appeal for worldwide help.
He said the nation did not have "the skills and expertise to refloat stranded ships" as he appealed to France for help.
According to reports, the boat, which is owned by the Nagashiki Shipping, was headed from China to Brazil.
"When biodiversity is in peril, there is urgency to act", French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.
Neither Mitsui OSK Lines nor the listed owners of the ship, Okiyo Maritime Corporation and Nagashiki Shipping Co.
Earlier Sunday, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., the operator of the Panama-flagged bulk carrier Wakashio, said more than 1,000 tons of fuel oil have leaked from the vessel.
In the meantime, Mauritian environmentalists and coastal residents have worked together to deploy homemade floating devices in the hope of preventing the oil from spreading farther.
Mauritius - popular for its marine ecology, pristine waters and white beaches in the Indian Ocean - is largely dependent on tourism.
"We are in an environmental crisis situation", said the environment minister, Kavy Ramano, while the fishing minister, Sudheer Maudhoo, said: "This is the first time that we are faced with a catastrophe of this kind and we are insufficiently equipped to handle this problem".
A military aircraft from Reunion and carrying pollution-control equipment would make two flights over the spill site on Saturday, while a naval vessel carrying booms and absorbents would also set sail, authorities on Reunion said.
A police inquiry has been opened into possible negligence, the government said.
France is sending specialist teams and supplies to help Mauritius deal with an oil spill from a cargo vessel that ran aground on a reef last month.
Nagashiki Shipping Company said it had tried to free the the tanker but the effort was hampered by persistent bad weather.