Sri Lanka warns of toxic leaks from burning ship
Posted on May 25th, 2021

Courtesy NewsIn.Asia

Colombo, May 25 (Xinhua): Sri Lanka on Tuesday said that floating toxic or poisonous material or packages from the burning and abandoned ship X-Press Pearl” may reach the shores of the country and warned people to stay away from beaches.

India rushes assets to douse fire in vessel off Colombo harbor

In a statement, Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) strictly warned people from touching or opening the packages or materials and requested them to contact the Sri Lanka Navy or the police upon the sight of any such items.

The container ship X-Press Pearl” registered under the flag of Singapore, was carrying 1,486 containers with 25 tons of nitric acid and several other chemicals and cosmetics from the port of Hazira, India on May 15, according to the Sri Lanka Navy.

The vessel sent out a distress call as it approached the Colombo Port on May 20, and soon caught fire, resulting in the Sri Lankan Navy dispatching vessels to bring the fire under control.

By Tuesday morning, eight cargo containers had fallen into the sea and the vessel was reported to be unstable, the MEPA said.

The Sri Lanka Navy said it had rescued 25 crew members from the ship. Two injured Indian nationals among the rescued had been hospitalized for treatment.

The distressed container ship had crew who are Philippine, Chinese, Indian and Russian nationals.

By Tuesday evening, the Sri Lanka Navy said the fire was now spreading to the quarterdeck. The fire was being exacerbated by strong winds due to changing weather conditions.

The navy further cautioned the fishing community to avoid the sea area where the vessel was burning.

The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) said it had deployed Bell-212 helicopters to drop dry chemical powder on the X-Press Pearl to douse the fire.

While these operations were ongoing amid inclement weather, the MEPA urged citizens in capital Colombo to avoid going to the beaches and touching any floating objects in the water as they might be chemicals from the burning fire.

The MEPA has launched a probe to assess if there has been any environmental destruction due to the fire

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