Fire aboard the Boxship X-Press Pearl Subsides
Officials reported late in the day that joint firefighting efforts were making progress in reducing fires aboard the container ship X-Press Pearl. The ship, which remains anchored nine nautical miles off Sri Lanka, is a total loss and there are concerns that it will sink before the blaze goes out. At the same time, there are more and more requests for an investigation into the incident and Sri Lanka has already started to take steps to bring charges against the captain and the vessel.
Firefighting tugs constantly sprayed and sprayed the vessel with support from the Sri Lankan Navy and the vessel’s Indian Coast Guard X-Press Feeders operators. A total of nine ships from Sri Lanka and three from India as well as the rescue company were involved in fighting the fire and supported by flame retardant chemicals dropped from the air. Overnight, the Indian Coast Guard moved supplies of dry energy and fire-fighting equipment to Sri Lanka to aid in the joint effort.
#Neighbourhood first #Fire onboard #MVXPressPearl off #Colombo. Firefighting operation supported by #ICG Ships in coordination with Sri Lanka has deployed tugs underway. Significantly reduced fire. Reconnaissance carried out by the #ICG Dornier aircraft. No oil spill detected. DDNewsLive
posted by Indian Coast Guard Thursday, May 27, 2021
Despite progress in reducing the fires aboard the ship, Sri Lankan Navy officials have warned the blaze will likely burn for days. They noted, however, that the shooting was now made easier by improving weather conditions with lower winds and seas.
Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority has already opened an investigation following media reports that the crew discovered a chemical leak in the containers as the vessel sailed from the Middle East to India. MEPA wonders why the captain anchored off Colombo when he was aware of the danger.
The ship’s operator issued a statement refuting media reports that after discovering the leak, the ship was denied entry into ports, which could have averted the disaster. “Reports that the vessel has been denied entry to the Port of Hazira in India and the Port of Hamad in Qatar is incorrect,” X-Press Feeders said in response to an unconfirmed report in maritime media. They noted that the ship had stopped at both ports on its route. “Requests had been made at both ports to unload a container which was leaking nitric acid, but the advice given was that there were no specialist facilities or expertise immediately available to deal with the leaks. ‘acidic,’ reported X-Press Feeders.
Container and debris on shore (Sri Lanka Navy)
Sri Lanka’s MEPA officials continue to prepare for the possibility of an oil spill, although recognition from the Indian Coast Guard has denied reports of an oil leak from the container ship. The MEPA said it feared the hull of the X-Press Pearl had been compromised by the fire and could break if they attempted to tow the vessel further out to sea in the present rough waters.
At least eight containers of the almost 1,500 load on board have fallen into the ocean and at least one has already stranded ashore. Sri Lankan police yesterday warned they would take action against looters carrying items off the beach and today reported that eight people have been arrested. Sri Lanka has also posted guards on the beach to prevent people from coming into contact with the contents of containers that have fallen overboard. They warned that some of the containers that fell overboard could have carried the dangerous chemicals known to be on board the ship. The manifests show the ship was carrying 25 tonnes of nitric acid along with other chemicals used to make cosmetics.
Police guarding the shore (Sri Lanka Navy)