Smoke rises from a fire onboard the MV X-Press Pearl vessel as it sinks [Image via Reuters]

Maritime Ecological-Disaster in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s top environmental body has fired a Singapore-flagged cargo ship near the shore of Colombo. It claimed that it is facing its greatest maritime ecological disaster, which sparked significant environmental worries.

On the 20th of May, the cargo ship – MV’X-PRESS PEARL, was transported from Hazira in Gujarat to the port of Colombo chemicals and raw materials. Unfortunately, that is when the fire was caught at around 9.5 nautical miles out of Colombo port.

On May 21, the Indian coastguards and Air Force assisted the Sri Lankans in managing to fire. The ship was laden with 1,486 containers, bearing around 25 tonnes of toxic nitric acid, in addition to the 325 metric tonnes of fuel in its tanks.

Official Statements from Sri Lanka Officials

Darshani Lahandapura, Chairman of the Marine Environment Pollution Authority (MEPA) said that it was the worst maritime ecological disaster on the island nation, according to available information yet. Lahanapura added that in the impacted coastal areas they observed, plastic perforations floating around damaging marine biodiversity negatively.

Furthermore, she informed that the main tourist attraction places near the Lagoon of Negombo were very sensitive fishing grounds. Similarly, as a result of pollution, there are mangroves that might also get affected.

According to the ship’s owners in Singapore; The vessel’s hull, like bunker tanks, remains intact structurally. The authorities did not report any oil leakage. Likewise, the Sri Lankan Navy also stated that no oil sights have taken place since the fire started.

The Fisheries Ministry of Sri Lanka has guaranteed no cause for worry about consuming fish, as last Sunday fishing was forbidden in the concerned area. ‘The fishing ban had affected many fishermen. Therefore they should receive some sort of support.’ A Spokesperson added.

MEPA authorities claimed that there were several deaths of sea turtles, birds, and tiny fish along the coast.

Help from the Indian Side

On Tuesday, the Sri Lankan Navy received help from the Indian ICG Vaibhav, ICG Dornier, and Tug Water Lilly to curb the fire.

Sri Lanka is based on islands hence its population has a high dependency on marine food. If such incidents happen in Sri Lankan waters they damage the life cycle of Marine life. Under these conditions, India offered its help which is highly welcoming for the whole South Asian region. Lastly, without any misgiving, through cooperation and mutual understanding; this promising region (South Asia) could track its train on the line of prosperity and progress.


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