Cargo ship sank off Sri Lanka in fear of environmental disaster

A cargo ship loaded with chemicals is sinking off Sri Lanka in fear of a major environmental disaster.

Registered in Singapore, X-Press Pearl has been on fire for nearly two weeks.

If a ship sank, hundreds of tons of engine oil could spill into the ocean, with devastating effects on marine life.

The Sri Lankan and Indian Navy have worked together for the past few days to extinguish the fire and prevent the ship from collapsing and sinking.

However, rough waves and monsoon winds hindered operations.

Sri Lanka Navy spokesman Captain Indica Silva told the BBC, “The ship is sinking. The rescue team is trying to tow the ship into the deep sea before it sinks to minimize marine pollution. , The rear area of ​​the ship is drifting. “

The coastline near the city of Negombo-some of the country’s most pristine beaches-has already been contaminated with oil and debris for several days.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Fisheries immediately stopped the entry of vessels from the Negombo Lagoon and the fishing from Panadura to Negombo as the salvage company stated that the vessel was sunk at its current location.

He also said that emergency precautions have been taken to prevent damage from debris and oil leaks to protect the lagoon and its surrounding areas.

X-Press Shipping, a Singapore-based company that owns the ship, confirmed that the crew had noticed the leak, but left the ship there from both Qatar and India before the fire broke out. He said he was denied permission.

The fact that Sri Lanka allowed the vessel to enter the port after being rejected by the other two countries spread public anger.

Authorities filed a complaint with police last week against the captain of a ship rescued with other crew members.

Sri Lankan police announced on Tuesday that they had interrogated the store captain and engineers for more than 14 hours.

The court issued an order banning the captain, chief engineer, and deputy chief engineer from leaving the country.

A Singapore-registered container ship moored at the Port of Colombo was the first to report a fire on board due to a chemical leak in one of its containers.

The 186-meter-long ship X-Press Feeders, operated by the world’s largest feeder operator, loaded 25 tons of nitric acid, several other chemicals and cosmetics from the port of Hazira, India, on May 15, 2021. It was carrying only 1486 containers.

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