Oil and debris from a container ship on fire off the coast of Sri Lanka have coated beaches on its west coast.
Images of the beach in Negombo, a popular tourist destination, have generated outrage in the country, reports the BBC.
The Singapore-registered X-Press Pearl was carrying chemicals and cosmetics, and has been on fire for eight days.
The Sri Lankan navy is working with the Indian navy and salvage experts to try and put it out, amid fears of a major environmental disaster.
If the ship sinks, then hundreds of tonnes of oil could leak into the sea having an adverse impact on marine life.
Rough seas and monsoonal winds are hampering the operation, officials have said.
Apart from being a tourist destination, the main occupation for many in Negombo is fishing, which means a larger oil spill would be a double blow to the town.
Although there is already oil coating the beaches, the bigger problem at the moment is debris, mostly comprising tiny plastic pellets. It has now spread to other towns along Sri Lanka's western coastline.
The chairman of Sri Lanka's Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) Dharshani Lahandapura told the AFP news agency that the crew had known of a nitric acid leak aboard the vessel even before it entered Sri Lankan waters, and the fire could have been avoided if they acted promptly.
Officials have lodged a police complaint against the captain of the ship, who was rescued along with other crew members on Tuesday.
X-Press Shipping - the Singapore based company which owns the vessel - confirmed the crew was aware of the leak, but say they were denied permission by both Qatar and India to leave the ship there before the fire broke out.
News that Sri Lanka allowed the vessel to enter the country's waters after it was rejected by two other nations has led to anger on social media.