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Sri Lanka: Container ship is in risk of sinking, risking a major environmental disaster.

Image Credit: ANI

The fire that raged on for 8 days on the container ship MV X-Press Pearl, anchored off the coast of Sri Lanka just 9.5 nautical miles (18km) northwest of Colombo is now in risk of sinking, risking the release of tonnes of oil into the sea which would have an adverse effect on marine life. While the fire is contained there is still smoke and intermittent flames on the ship.

The fire on the ship was contained after 8 days it started, but boarding the ship is still out of the question as the vessel is still very hot. Rough seas and monsoonal winds are hampering the whole operation.

Unfortunately, oil and debris from the container ship has already coated beaches on its west coast. Tonnes of plastic waste have washed ashore, but if it sinks, the maritime disaster will be far more worse. Sri Lanka Ports Authority Chairman Daya Rathnayake  said that the navy are attempting to anchor the vessel into deeper waters, but first they need to assess the structure of the vessel to see if it is possible to do.

The Negombo beach has been closed for both tourists and fishermen. Fishing has been banned from an 80km stretch of coast near the container ship. Thousands of jobs of fishermen are in peril, and an oil leak would make it worse, according MEPA.

The fire on the ship started 10 days ago and is believed to have been caused by a nitric acid leak, which the 25-member crew knew about. They were soon evacuated after an explosion on the vessel, but luckily no casualties were reported.

More details to follow.

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