Aug. 20 (UPI) -- The Japanese government is coming under heavy criticism following a massive oil spill off the coast of Mauritius involving a Japanese-owned ship.
Friends of the Earth Japan and Greenpeace are among the environmental organizations that say parties ultimately responsible are not doing enough to address the spillage, involving 1,000 tons of fuel oil. The oil leaked from the ship when the vessel, MV Wakashio, ran aground, according to Kyodo on Thursday.
The ship broke in half, officials in Mauritius said on Saturday.
"The Japanese government seems to be on the defensive, perhaps due to fears of damages claims," said Kanna Mitsuta, Friends of the Earth's executive director in Japan.
"It may not be legally responsible for the disaster, as the freighter was Panamanian-flagged, but it is effectively a Japanese one, as it was operated and owned by Japanese shipping companies," she said.
France has provided assistance since the spill, supplying a military ship and aircraft. On Sunday, India sent equipment, including oil absorbent pads and the Indian Coast Guard, according to Kyodo.
"When biodiversity is in danger, there is an urgent need to act. France is there. Alongside the Mauritian people," French President Emanuel Macron said on Twitter on Aug. 8.
The ship, which was carrying about 3,800 tons of fuel oil when it was unable to return to deeper waters, struck coral reef on the southeast coast of Mauritius on July 25.
Oil began to leak on Aug. 6, but Japan did not respond to the crisis until Aug. 11. Tokyo sent two response teams to Mauritius this week.
Greenpeace said in a letter to the executives of Mitsui on Aug. 13 the spill has "destroyed one of the most beautiful places in the world, along with the livelihoods of the people who live there."
"Thousands of local people are battling night and day to try to contain the damage your ship is causing to their homelands and livelihoods," the group said.
On Tuesday, Mauritius arrested the Indian captain of the ship, Sunil Kumar Nandeshwar, according to Voice of America.