A cargo ship which is leaking oil in Mauritius may break in two, causing an ecological disaster in the country that relies heavily on tourism.

Authorities and volunteers on the Indian Ocean island have been mobilised to tackle the spillage from MV Wakashio.

The ship was carrying 3,500 tonnes of heavy oil when ran aground on July 25, on the coral reefs off Pointe d’Esny, a sanctuary known for its rare wildlife.

Last week, the carrier’s hull was breached, resulting in an oil spillage in the lagoon on August 6.

The conditions of the ship is deteriorating, with hull cracks extending and new cracks appearing so there is a real risk of the ship breaking in two, say reports.

Tugs have been positioned to take a part of the ship to the high seas if needed.

Environmental bodies are working together to clean up the pollution and are coordinating teams of volunteers.

The Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority is posting pictures and updates about the oil spill on its website.

It said that prime minister Pravind Jugnauth warned that the clean-up operation is “risky and seriously challenged by current weather conditions”.

A crisis committee and several sub-committees have been set up to manage what the prime minister called “an unprecedented ecological crisis for Mauritius”.

Picture credit: Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority