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Sri Lanka crisis

Sri Lanka's black market for fuel churns alongside mileslong lines

Authorities clamp down as some ask, 'How else will we feed our families?'

Sri Lankans wait for fuel rations at a gas station in Colombo. Some have resorted to selling on the black market to those who are willing and able to pay more. (Photo by Kanika Gupta)

COLOMBO -- Serpentine lines of motorists awaiting fuel rations have become a common sight in Sri Lanka's commercial capital of Colombo, as the country grapples with an unprecedented economic crisis. Some queues stretch for miles, with auto-rickshaw drivers and car owners baking in the sun to get their hands on a few precious liters. Several people are reported to have died while waiting.

But not everyone waits. A black market for gas has sprung up. The fuel trade is a microcosm of the different ways people in the country of 22 million are experiencing the economic woes, depending on their level of wealth, as the authorities scramble to stop illicit sales and find long-term solutions.

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