Colombo, Sri Lanka (AP)-Experts have recovered a data recorder for a ship carrying fire-damaged chemicals.
Singapore-registered MV X-Press Pearl began to sink on Wednesday, the day after authorities extinguished the burning fire on board for 12 days. Attempts to tow the ship into the deep sea away from Colombo’s port failed after the stern was submerged and sank to the seabed.
The Sri Lankan Port Authority said on Saturday that experts with the Navy had recovered the ship’s voyage data recorder (VDR, commonly known as a black box).
Authorities said on their website that the VDR, which contains important information related to the operation of the vessel, will be handed over to local law enforcement agencies investigating the fire.
Both authorities and ship operators say that the rear of the ship remains on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters (70 feet), and the front continues to sink slowly.
Operator X-Press Feeders said rescuers remained on the scene to address the potential spill. We apologize for the disaster.
Port officials and operators said there were no signs of oil or chemical spills. They said the Sri Lankan Navy, Indian Coast Guard, rescue teams and local governments were able to respond to signs of oil pollution and debris and are monitoring the situation 24 hours a day.
The fire destroyed most of the ship’s cargo, which contained 25 tons of nitric acid and other chemicals. However, chemicals left over from the fuel tank and hundreds of tons of oil can leak into the sea.
Such disasters can devastate marine life and further pollute the island’s famous beaches. The disaster has already washed away debris containing tons of plastic pellets used to make plastic bags to the shore.
The government has banned fishing on the coastline for about 80 kilometers (50 miles).
According to officials, the ship is loaded with about 300 tonnes of oil, and experts believe it may have burned out in a fire.
The Associated Press’s inventory of ships explains that X-Press Pearls carry just under 1,500 containers, 81 of which are described as “dangerous goods.”
Environmentalists warn that dangerous goods, plastics, chemicals and oil can be released into the water and destroy marine ecosystems, which could be a “terrible environmental disaster.”
The fire broke out on May 20, waiting for the ship to berth about 9.5 nautical miles (18 km) northwest of Colombo and enter the harbor. The Navy attributed the fire to chemical cargo that the ship was carrying from the port of Hazira, India.
Sri Lankan police are investigating, and a court in Colombo has banned captains, engineers, and assistant engineers from leaving the country. The government has stated that it will take legal action against shipowners to seek compensation.