The Singapore-flagged vessel X-Press Pearl has sunk after burning for nearly two weeks off the west coast of Sri Lanka. The cargo ship sunk with tonnes of chemicals, which has lead to fears among authorities for a major environmental disaster.
According to reports, the ship was carrying 1486 containers, along with 25 tonne of nitric acid and other chemicals. As the sinking of the ship will lead to oil spill and pollution, the Srilankan navy is taking all necessary measures to deal with the situation.
X-Press Feeders, operators of the container ship ‘X-Press Pearl’ reported that despite salvors successfully boarding the vessel and attaching a tow wire, efforts to move the ship to deeper waters have failed, and the ships aft portion is now touching bottom at a depth of 21 meters.
Earlier the operators had informed that the salvors report no visible flames aboard the vessel, though smoke was still emitting intermittently from cargo holds 1,2 and 3.
An inspection team were able to board the vessel on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 1, and reported the engine room flooded. There are now concerns over the amount of water in the hull and its effect on the ship’s stability.
Efforts to make a connection for towing failed after several attempts due to the tug’s movement caused by the swell. The operation was aborted for safety reasons.
A team re-boarded the vessel again on June 2nd for further investigations and to renew attempts to make a line connection on the bow. Ashore, contractors continued working with local authorities on their fifth day of shoreline clean up efforts to safely dispose of any debris that has washed up.
Most of the evacuated crew continue to serve out quarantine at dedicated local hotels, whilst select seafarers continue helping local police with their enquiries into the fire and are cooperating with investigators.
The crew member who was transferred to a special facility in a military hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 remains asymptomatic and continues to recover from the leg injury. A second injured crew member continues to recover from his leg injuries in a local hospital.
In a press release, the Srilankan Navy stated that RV ‘Samudrika’, a research vessel from the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA), operated by the Sri Lanka Navy Hydrographic Service (SLNHS) was deployed on 01st June 2021 to collect water and sediment samples from the sea area where the distressed ship MV X-PRESS PEARL was laying.
The primary objective of this sample collection was to conduct a post-survey on the environmental impact following this ill-fated incident.
The fire on the ship leads to the destruction of most of the cargo, leading to pollution of surrounding waters and nearby beaches.
Plastic pellets from the ship have covered the beaches and the department of fisheries has suspended fishing in nearby areas In the latest report, the Srilankan government has said that it will take legal actions against the owners of the ship for compensation.
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