The Indian Island nation of Mauritius is now on panic mode as an oil spill threatens its entire coastline and ecosystem.
A Japanese ship that ran aground on a reef two weeks ago has pushed the Indian Ocean to prepare for a worst case scenario.
Conservationists said they were starting to find dead fish as well as seabirds covered in oil, increasing fears of an ecological catastrophe despite a massive local cleanup operation that includes making floating booms from leaves and human hair.
Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said although the leak had stopped, it still had 2,000 tonnes of oil in two other, undamaged tanks.
“The salvage team has observed several cracks in the ship hull, which means that we are facing a very serious situation. We should prepare for a worst case scenario. It is clear that at some point the ship will fall apart.”Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth of Mauritius
Mauritius has declared a state of emergency and former colonial ruler France has sent aid in what environmental group Greenpeace said could be a major ecological crisis. Japan has also sent help.
Tourism is a major contributor to the Mauritius economy, generating 63 billion rupees ($1.6 billion) last year.