The Sri Lankan high court ordered the Greek captain of MT New Diamond vessel, which carried crude oil to India from Kuwait and caught fire off the country’s eastern Ampara coast, to pay a fine of $64,972 after he pleaded guilty to a marine environment pollution charge on Wednesday.
The Panamanian flagged tanker was carrying 270,000 tonnes of crude and 1,700 tonnes of diesel from Kuwait to India. A fire broke out when the carrier was in the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on 3rd September 2020 at around 8:00 AM. The fire started because of an explosion in a boiler in the ship’s main engine room when it was sailing 38 nautical miles off Sangaman Kanda Point.
Indian Coast Guard and their Sri Lankan counterparts had joined the firefighting efforts, it took them 3 days to completely douse the fire. Indian Coast Guard had mobilized seven ships and two aircraft for this operation and had provided necessary support to the Sri Lankan authorities. The tanker had 23 crew members – 18 Filipinos and five Greeks. Twenty-two of the 23 member crew had been safely rescued off the tanker.
Attorney General Dappula De Livera filed an indictment in the Colombo High Court against the crude oil tanker ‘MT New Diamond’ vessel’s captain Sterio Illias over the incident, and just last week, the Greek captain was indicted by the Sri Lanka court for causing the oil spill under the country’s Marine Pollution Prevention Act, after he pleaded guilty at the Colombo High Court. He was then fined Sri Lankan Rs 12 million ($64,972), court officials said.
He appeared before the court on September 28 for negligence and not putting in place safety measures to prevent fire on board. Colombo High Court Judge Dhammika Ganepola ordered the defendant Steiros Ilas Kardany to be released after paying the fine. The captain was barred from leaving the country although no remand order was served on him in spite of a state request.