Sri Lanka container ship sinking could lead to environmental crisis

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The Sri Lankan Navy said on Wednesday that towing operations of the burnt X Press Pearl vessel were halted after the stern of the vessel struck the seabed.

Navy spokesman Captain Indika De Silva said operations were halted after a few hours of operations to tow the vessel on the high seas as the stern struck the seabed which could cause other damage.

On Wednesday evening, the front part of the ship was still floating in the water while the aft part had sunk.

Officials said the ship was now partly sunk, but discussions were underway with the rescue team on how this could prevent the entire ship from sinking in place.

The Navy spokesperson said no oil spill was detected or seen from the ship, but if it did, they had the resources to contain it to a limited area.

The ship is currently on the outskirts of Colombo Port.

Sri Lanka will seek compensation from the parent company that owns the vessel as police have opened a criminal investigation into the blaze.

The Marine Environment Protection Authority said the fire on the X Press Pearl vessel caused a massive environmental disaster, with beaches from the south coast to the west coast damaged due to debris that was washed onto the shore.

The government said large numbers of marine animals had been killed because of the pollution caused by the blaze while the Fisheries Department imposed a temporary ban on fishing from the south coast to the west coast.

More than 1,000 people have been deployed to clean up damaged beaches in recent days and people have been warned not to touch any of the debris as it could be harmful.

The vessel X-Press Pearl is registered under the Singapore flag and was carrying 1,486 containers containing 25 tonnes of nitric acid and several other chemicals and cosmetics from the port of Hazira, India on May 15.

The ship made a distress call while in the vicinity of Colombo port on May 20 before catching fire. The Sri Lankan navy dispatched ships to contain the blaze.

(All images via VCG)

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Source (s): Xinhua News Agency

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