Sri Lanka to sue Singapore ship owners over marine pollution

Crippled ship at risk of sinking off Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's State Minister of Fisheries, Kanchana Wijesekera, said on Twitter the X-Press Pearl was "sinking at the current position" and fishing activities and other vessels have been barred from entering the Negombo Lagoon.

A stricken container ship that caught fire 13 days ago off the Sri Lankan coast, unleashing one of the worst ecological disasters in the country's history, is now sinking, officials said.

The fire on the MV X-Press Pearl has been burning since May 20, ravaging the Singapore-flagged ship, which officials say is only about five months old.

The X-Press Pearl is also carrying around 350 metric tons of fuel oil and the sinking further alarmed environmentalists, who were struggling to understand the amount and impact of debris already shed by the ship.

The presence of high winds have been intensifying and spreading the blaze, Sri Lankan navy spokesman Indika de Silva told The Associated Press.

As of 1100 Hours on May 31, 2021, Sri Lankan time, the salvors have confirmed that the vessel's hull remains structurally intact, and there has been no loss of oil into the port's waters.

An official involved in the mitigation efforts said earlier that local experts feared the vessel was unstable.

"The fire-fighting efforts also saw a lot of water sprayed onto the decks".

Images of the vessel shared by Sri Lanka's Navy showed the charred body of the container ship with its stern appearing to be submerged in the water as smoke continues to billow from its bow.

"We can't pump that water out because it is contaminated with oil".

The inundation of microplastic granules from the cargo has already forced a fishing ban and prompted concern for wildlife and the marine environment.

The intense flames, still burning at the rear of the 186-metre (610-foot) vessel, have destroyed much of the cargo, some of which has fallen into the Indian Ocean.

She said they were, however, yet to make an assessment of the environmental damage, but she believed it was the "worst marine pollution" Sri Lanka has ever suffered.

Sri Lanka's Marine Environment Protection Authority said it met with attorney general Sanjaya Rajaratnam on Sunday to plan legal action against the owners of the vessel, its crew, as well as insurers.

Police said that the captain and chief engineer, both Russian nationals, as well as a third officer have been questioned.

A court had ordered Tuesday to impound the passports of all three pending investigations.

The ship was heading to Colombo from Gujarat, India when the blaze started, having previously visited Qatar and Dubai where the containers of nitric acid had been loaded.



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