A merchant ship carrying tons of chemicals is sinking off the west coast of Sri Lanka, and the country’s government and navy fear the worst marine disaster ever.
The Singapore-registered MV X-Press Pearl, carrying 1,486 containers, including 25 tons of nitric acid, along with other chemicals and cosmetics, was anchored off the island’s west coast when a fire broke out on May 20. Authorities have been battling the fire ever since; The Navy said last month that burning containers loaded with chemicals had fallen overboard.
Experts say tons of plastic pellets have inundated the island’s coast and rich fishing grounds, causing one of the biggest environmental crises in decades. “The ship is sinking. The salvage company in question is trying to pull the ship out to sea before it sinks to reduce marine pollution, but the back of the ship has drifted,” a Sri Lankan Navy spokesperson told BBC captain Indika Silva.
The coastal stretch near the town of Negombo, home to some of the most pristine beaches in the country, has already been polluted with oil and debris for several days. Meanwhile, the Minister of Fisheries stopped the entry of ships from Lake Negombo and fishing from Panadura to Negombo with immediate effect, as the rescue company said the ship was sinking in its current location.
He also said that emergency precautionary measures have been taken to protect the lake and its surrounding areas to contain damage from any debris or in the event of an oil spill.
A Singapore-flagged container ship moored off the Colombo port has, for the first time, reported a fire on board due to a chemical leakage in one of its containers.
Measuring 186 meters in length, operated by the world’s largest feeder company X-Press Feeders, it was carrying 1,486 containers with 25 tons of nitric acid and various other chemicals and cosmetics from the port of Hazira, India on May 15, 2021.