Cargo Ship Off Sri Lankan Coast Continues to Burn, Coats Beaches in Oil and Chemicals

A Singapore-registered cargo ship which caught fire last week off the coast of Sri Lanka has continues to burn and is now leaking oil that is spread to nearby beaches.

The X-Press Pearl was on its way to Colombo from Gujarat in India when a fire broke out on the deck on May 20 while the ship was around 14 km offshore.  prompted its crew to evacuate. 

Images shared on social media have shown the nearby Negombo beach covered in oil and debris because of the X-Press Pearl fire. 

The fire has already spread to the quarterdeck while containers with chemicals inside have fallen overboard. 

Local firefighters and salvage experts from Europe still trying to save the vessel and its cargo because its sinking could cause an environmental disaster.

Sri Lanka navy spokesman Indika de Silva said four tug boats and three Sri Lankan and Indian vessels have joined the operation.

Dharshani Lahandapura from the Marine Environment Protection Authority said containment measures were already made if chemicals or fuel oil managed to leak from the ship’s engine and fuel tanks.

Sri Lanka Ports Authority Chairman Daya Rathnayake claimed that the fire has already been controlled but the ship is still unsafe to board because it has not cooled down yet. 

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