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Situation in Mauritius Becomes Desperate

People living in Mauritius have described the devastation caused by an oil spill from a stranded tanker as overwhelming and called for urgent international help to stop the ecological and economic damage faced by the island nation. More than 1,000 tonnes of fuel has already seeped from the bulk carrier MV Wakashio into the sea off south-east Mauritius, polluting the coral reefs, white-sand beaches and pristine lagoons that attract tourists from around the world. But experts say the ship – which still has 2,500 tonnes of oil onboard – is cracking up, threatening an even greater ecological and economic disaster. Locals on the island have questioned why more was not done to avert disaster when the ship first ran aground on 25 July. Thousands of volunteers, many smeared from head to toe in black sludge, have ignored official instructions to stay away, stringing together miles of improvised floating barriers made of straw in a desperate attempt to hold back the oily tide. The slick has already begun drifting further up the coast, fanned along by strong winds and currents.