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Disaster feared as chemical cargo ship sinks off Sri La...

Newsdeck

Newsdeck

Disaster feared as chemical cargo ship sinks off Sri Lanka

Adrien Eyssautier, the captain of the Marion Dufresne, says it took nearly six hours to collect one of the eight marine sediment core samples. While the core-sampler sinks rapidly (aided by gravity and several tons of steel weights) the assembly and positioning of the coring rigs next to the side of the vessel has to be done carefully. Once the rig is in position, Eysssautier and his crew have to ensure that the research vessel moves as little as possible during the coring operations – often a tricky task when the ship is being assailed by strong waves, wind and currents. (Photo: Jean-Paul Vanderlinden)
By Reuters
02 Jun 2021 0

COLOMBO, June 2 (Reuters) - A cargo ship carrying tonnes of chemicals is sinking off Sri Lanka's west coast, the country's government and navy said on Wednesday, in one of Sri Lanka's worst-ever marine disasters.

By Waruna Karunatilake and Alasdair Pal

The Singapore-registered MV X-Press Pearl, carrying 1,486 containers, including 25 tonnes of nitric acid, along with other chemicals and cosmetics, was anchored off the island’s west coast when a fire erupted on May 20.

Authorities have been battling the blaze since then, as flaming containers laden with chemicals have fallen from the ship’s deck, the navy said last month.

Tonnes of plastic pellets have swamped the island’s coastline and rich fishing grounds, creating one of the biggest environmental crises in decades, experts say.

“The salvage company involved in the X-Press Pearl has indicated that the vessel is sinking at the current position,” fisheries minister Kanchana Wijesekera said in a tweet.

The government has banned fishing along an 80-kilometre stretch of coastline, affecting 5,600 fishing boats, while hundreds of soldiers have been deployed to clean the beach.

A salvage crew is towing the vessel to deeper water, Wijesekera added. (Reporting by Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo and Alasdair Pal in New Delhi. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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