Burnt-out container ship sinks in sea; Sri Lankan Navy bracing for potential oil spill


The Sri Lankan Navy on Wednesday mentioned that it’s on the brink of take care of a possible oil spill after the fire-stricken Singapore-flagged cargo ship laden with chemical substances sank within the outer Colombo Harbour following an unsuccessful bid to tow the vessel to deeper seas.

Water submerged the MV X-Press Pearl’s rear finish a day after firefighters from Sri Lanka and India climbed onto the vessel and extinguished a blaze that had been burning for 12 days.

The event has led to grave environmental issues because the container ship nonetheless has a number of hundred tonnes of oil in its gas tanks.

“We are literally preparing for an oil spill that would occur within the subsequent few days,” Captain Indika de Silva, the Navy spokesman mentioned.

He mentioned the salvors had bought on board the ship at four am on Wednesday morning and the motion to tow it to the outer space had begun by 9 am.

Specialists had been attempting to tow the ship farther out to sea, some 9 nautical miles away from the Colombo port the place it had been anchored since Might 20, to stop its sinking on the present place which might have induced extreme air pollution.

The order to tow the ship got here from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa late Tuesday.

“It could possibly be towed just for just a few hundred meters when it hit the ocean mattress,” he mentioned, including that the ship’s stern had settled on the underside whereas the bow was floating.

De Silva mentioned he was unsure if the hearth which engulfed the ship since 12 days in the past had additionally unfold to the bunker oil.

“We do not know but, however we’re preparing,” he mentioned.

The Sri Lankan Navy, with help from the Indian Naval coast guard, doused the flames after a strenuous effort, officers mentioned.

The resultant setting and marine ecological air pollution is thought to be the worst the island had seen. The ship’s cargo, comprising chemical substances and nitric acid, had been termed hazardous to the marine ecology.

No less than eight containers had fallen within the sea when it was anchored and went up in flames some 9 nautical miles off the Colombo port.

The authorities imposed a fishing ban within the space whereas The Central Environmental Authority and the Marine Setting Safety Authority started their investigations to make assessments of the damages to stake a authorized declare for compensation from the ship’s homeowners.

Statements could be recorded from one Indian and two Russian officers on obligation on the vessel.

Whereas the Indian official was the deputy chief engineer of the ship, the 2 Russians had been the captain and chief engineer respectively. The authorities consider that the hearth was attributable to a nitric acid leak which the crew reportedly knew about 9 days earlier than the hearth started.

A court docket ordered on Tuesday to impound the passports of all of the three crew members pending investigations.

The cargo vessel, which was carrying a consignment of chemical substances and uncooked supplies for cosmetics from Hazira in Gujarat to Colombo Port, caught hearth on Might 20 outdoors the Port of Colombo, the place it was anchored.

Other than the 325 metric tonnes of gas in its tanks, the vessel was loaded with 1,486 containers carrying about 25 tonnes of hazardous nitric acid.

Sri Lankan environmentalists have described it as one of many worst ecological disasters within the nation’s historical past and have warned of a possible risk to marine life and the fishing trade.

Massive portions of plastic particles have already inundated seashores, and authorities now concern an excellent better catastrophe if the 278 tonnes of bunker oil and 50 tonnes of gasoline within the ship’s gas tanks leak into the Indian Ocean.

Your complete western coastal line has change into swamped with the waste from the vessel’s hearth – largely plastic beads that are dangerous to the marine ecology, consultants have mentioned.

The plastic pellets, or nurdles, are used to make different plastic merchandise and are an enormous supply of ocean plastic air pollution. As a consequence of their small dimension, the pellets could be mistaken for meals to birds, fish and different marine wildlife.

The coastal space is understood for fishing, and mangroves across the Negombo Lagoon — a serious vacationer attraction and delicate ecological spot.

Minister of fisheries Kanchana Wijesekera has mentioned all fishing vessels coming into the ocean from the west coast’s Negombo have been stopped.

India on Might 25 dispatched ICG Vaibhav, ICG Dornier and Tug Water Lilly to assist the Sri Lankan Navy extinguish the hearth. India’s specialised air pollution response vessel Samudra Prahari reached there on Might 29. India had named the rescue efforts Operation Sagar Araksha 2.

All 25 crew members of the ship — of Indian, Chinese language, Filipino and Russian nationality — had been rescued on Might 21.

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