Brazil has deployed 5,000 troops to its beaches amid mounting fury at the government's inaction over the worst oil spill in the country's history.
The environmental catastrophe began in early September when large quantities of oil inexplicably washed ashore.
The mysterious spill has continued and has now touched more than 1,000 miles of Brazil's coast, polluting some of the country's most picturesque beaches and destroying local marine life.
Now public anger is rising over the Brazilian government's failure to stem the flow - or indeed establish the oil's source. In response, local officials have resorted to urging volunteers to aid the cleanup mission.
Videos of volunteers' inefficient attempts to clean up the spills have been met with ridicule on social media. Online commentators have shared footage of locals equipped with little more than rubber gloves and rudimentary fishing nets battling the huge environmental disaster, questioning why the government has not offered a coordinated national response.
The Brazilian government – instead of calling for an emergency plan to contain the disaster – is concerned about blaming Venezuela and communism. Who is cleaning the beaches? The Brazilian civilian population. pic.twitter.com/SKfwaoBytR
— Leandro Demori (@demori) October 22, 2019
This week Hamilton Mourão, the country's vice president, announced he was dispatching 5,000 troops to the northeast to give more “more visibility” to the government's response.
Mr Mourão said the government had recovered 600 tons of oil, the equivalent of almost 4,300 barrels, calling the accident "unprecedented in the world".
But critics have argued the government is no closer to determining the source of the spill.
President Jair Bolsonaro's government has posited several theories, including blaming Venezuela, criminals, or foreign vessels, but offered no evidence.
Mr Bolsonaro, who has already faced international criticism over his response to major fires in the Amazon, suggested the spill was the result of a “criminal action” to sabotage an oil auction taking place in November which is expected to generate $50 billion for Brazil.
The Brazilian leader said: “I wonder, we have to be very responsible about what we say - could it have been a criminal act to harm this auction?”
“It’s a question that’s out there,” he added.
The country’s environmental agency said a molecular analysis of the oil revealed it had not been produced in Brazil and the state-run oil company Petrobras has also denied any involvement.
Experts say that while naturally occurring oil spills are not uncommon, the sheer magnitude of the spill makes it unlikely to have occurred from the ocean floor or a sunken ship.