Rescue experts are watching a chemical cargo ship slowly sinking off the coast of Sri Lanka for environmental damage.
The MV X-Press Pearl began sinking on Wednesday, a day after authorities put out a 12-day fire on the ship, with… Volunteers describe the situation as the ‘worst marine environmental disaster’ The country has never seen it.
The authorities are monitoring the possible leakage of oil and chemicals from the ship in the waters Sri LankaThe main port in the capital Colombo and operators of the X-Press Feeders said rescue experts were still with the ship to monitor its condition and any contamination.
Fishing has been banned along about 80 kilometers (50 miles) of coast, as shipwrecks – including tons of burnt plastic and fiberglass pellets – continue to drift ashore.
Colombo port chief Nirmal Silva said tons of oil in the ship’s fuel tanks may also have burned due to the fire, but authorities were prepared to deal with the spill.
The Navy and Coast Guard are both dealing with the disaster. They are being helped by the authorities in India, who have sent three ships to help, including one specially equipped to deal with marine pollution.
Efforts to tow the sunken boat into deeper waters away from the port failed after it submerged its stern and settled to the sea floor 21 meters (70 feet) below the surface. The ship was continuing to soak up the water on Friday.
X-Press Feeders CEO Shumel Yoskovitz has apologized for the disaster, saying in an interview with Channel News Asia on Friday: «I would like to express my deepest regret and apologies to the Sri Lankan people for the damage this incident has caused to both of them. To livelihoods and the environment in Sri Lanka.» .
X-Press Feeders said the fire destroyed most of the ship’s tonnage, which included 23 tons of nitric acid and other chemicals.
Sri Lankan police are investigating the cause of the fire, and a court in Colombo has banned the ship’s captain, engineer and assistant from leaving the country. The government said it would take legal action against the ship’s owners to seek damages.
A fishing group and other activist groups have petitioned the country’s Supreme Court asking authorities to assess the long-term damage to the environment and marine life, and the potential hazards of eating fish and health effects.
Speaking to Sky News earlier in the week, Shareth Jayaratna, Country Director of Mighty Roar Volunteering, told Sky News the situation was appalling.
«This can be defined as the worst marine environmental disaster ever to happen to Sri Lanka,» he said.
The ship was carrying 78 metric tons of plastic pellets as well as a lot of chemicals harmful to nature.
“The government has allowed this ship to enter our maritime zone. It is a tragedy [has killed] Lots of marine life in Sri Lanka.»
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