A burnt-out container ship is in imminent danger of sinking off Sri Lanka’s coast with several hundred tonnes of oil still in its fuel tanks
The MV X-Press Pearl, carrying hundreds of tonnes of chemicals and plastics, burned for 13 days within sight of the island’s coast before rescue workers finally managed to extinguish the blaze on Tuesday.
However, a huge amount of plastic debris has already inundated beaches, and authorities now fear an even greater disaster should the 278 tonnes of bunker oil and 50 tonnes of gas in the ship’s fuel tanks leak into the Indian Ocean.
As tugs on Wednesday began trying to tow the ship further out to sea, navy spokesperson Indika de Silva said it was “facing an imminent risk of going down”.
Lanka has launched a criminal investigation into the fire and the marine pollution.
The ship was heading to Colombo from Gujarat, India when the blaze started, having previously visited Qatar and Dubai where the containers of nitric acid had, reportedly, been loaded.