Japanese ship that caused Mauritius oil spill passed checks

The Japanese bulk carrier that has caused the oil spill off the island of Mauritius, striking a coral reef and leaking an estimated 1,000 tons, is now known to have passed its annual inspection in March without any problems.

That's according to Japan's ClassNK inspection body on Tuesday.

The ship, the MV Wakashio, ran onto the reef on July 25, and the resulting oil leak has raised fears of a major ecological crisis.

The leak has stopped but there are reportedly several cracks in the hull, and -- having already declared a state of emergency -- the prime minister says they must prepare for "a worst case scenario".

Conservationists say they are starting to find dead fish as well as seabirds covered in oil, increasing fears of an ecological catastrophe despite a massive local clean-up operation

The Japanese government is sending a team to assist cleanup efforts.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) also said it had joined in, by providing technical advice and coordinating the response.