Shoot X-Press Pearl as Sri Lanka orders towing at sea
A rescue team was able to board the steaming wreckage of the container ship X-Press Pearl almost two weeks after the start of the fire and nine days after the abandonment of the ship. While the study of the vessel is underway, the Sri Lankan government, fearing further environmental damage late in the day, has ordered the vessel to be towed to deep water.
Officials from the Indian Navy, who assisted with the firefighting, as well as the Sri Lanka Port Authority, confirmed that the blaze had been extinguished and determined by working with the SMIT Rescue Team that ‘a crew could board the ship today, June 1. said that in addition to the extensive damage from the fire, the rescue team determined that the gunfire had flooded the ship’s engine room. Divers were also going to inspect the exterior of the hull for signs of fatigue. However, authorities continue to report that no oil spill has been recorded, despite the ship carrying 325 tonnes of bunker fuel on board.
Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority has previously called the incident the worst environmental disaster in the country’s history, but fears persist that the situation will worsen if the ship sinks. After a special meeting of government ministers, as well as representatives of the navy, air force and port authorities, Sri Lankan President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa issued an immediate order ordering that X-Press Pearl be moved to the deep sea further from the coast.
Shortly after the fire started, the government also ordered the vessel to be towed away from the anchorage, but at that time this was not considered practical due to the fire and monsoon conditions. In the region. the X-Press Pearl has remained anchored about 9.5 miles from Colombo since arriving on May 19.
Meanwhile, the Department of Criminal Investigations requested a court order prohibiting the ship’s captain, chief engineer and second engineer from leaving the country. The court ordered that the three police officers remain in Sri Lanka for the duration of the investigation. CID agents have already recorded the statements of the three agents as well as the ship’s port agent, Colombo port captain, MEPA and others as part of the investigation into the cause of the disaster. One of the points they explore is when the captain first learned of chemicals leaking from one or more of the containers.
The three-month-long ship’s rescue operations, believed to be a total constructive loss, are being carried out by the Dutch company SMIT, which has dispatched fire-fighting tugs and specialized equipment from the Netherlands. A total of nine Sri Lankan ships and three Indian ships were involved in the firefight, supported by Sri Lankan Air Force planes.