Fire-hit container ship off Sri Lanka coast starts to sink

Author: Pearl Bantillo

2021/06/03

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--The fire-hit container ship off the coast of Sri Lanka has started to sink on Thursday, with no signs of oil or chemical spills detected so far, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) said.

“A joint operation in coordinating with local authorities and the Indian Coast Guard to mitigate the impact of the possible environmental damage due to the fire on MV X-Press Pearl continues today,” it said in a statement on Thursday.

“Salvors and other officials have confirmed that the vessel’s aft portion is sitting on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters,” it added.

As of 07:00 Sri Lanka time (01:30 GMT), the Singapore-flagged ship’s “forward section continues to settle down slowly,” X-Press Feeders, operators of MV X-Press Pearl, said in a separate statement.

The ship was in the same position at mid-afternoon the previous day with “smoke coming out of Cargo Holds No 1 and 2”.

The fire at the ship carrying nitric acid, among other chemicals, raged for more than 10 days from 20 May before being extinguished.

Salvaging operations were aborted temporarily on 2 June for safety reasons, with X-Press Feeders noting that “efforts to move the ship to deeper waters have failed”.

The vessel, which departed from Hazira, India on 15 May, is anchored around 9.5 nautical miles northwest of the Port of Colombo.

Market sources said that a shipment of about 6,000 tonnes of polyethylene (PE) from Qatar was aboard the ship.