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A ship on fire for ten days in Sri Lanka, “the worst marine pollution in the history of the country”




For ten days, the MV X-Press Pearl, a 200-meter-long Panamanian container ship, has been burning off the coast of Colombo, the economic capital of Sri Lanka. Coming from India to Singapore, this cargo ship carries millions of polyethylene granules intended for the packaging industry and toxic and highly polluting products (25 tonnes of citric acid, nearly 300 tonnes of fuel oil and 50 tonnes of marine diesel).

So far, most of the pollution comes from millions of polyethylene granules destined for the packaging industry. (AFP)

The Sri Lankan authorities announced on Sunday that they would take legal action against the owner of the container ship, which is the cause of “one of the most serious marine pollution in the history of the country”. An investigation was also opened to understand how the fire had started on board the ship.

Sri Lankan authorities announced on Sunday that they would take legal action against the owner of the container ship, which has been on fire since May 20.
Sri Lankan authorities announced on Sunday that they would take legal action against the owner of the container ship, which has been on fire since May 20. (AFP)

Tourist beaches region

The pollution affects an area of ​​about 80 km along the coast around Colombo, an area of ​​tourist beaches, shallow-water fishing areas, and fragile ecosystems of mangroves and lagoons. While the fire on board the ship is now under control, it weakened the structure of the 186 m long ship.

The pollution affects an area of ​​about 80 km along the coast around Colombo, an area of ​​tourist beaches, shallow water fishing areas, and fragile mangrove ecosystems and
The pollution affects an area of ​​about 80 km along the coast around Colombo, an area of ​​tourist beaches, shallow-water fishing areas, and fragile ecosystems of mangroves and lagoons. (AFP)
In this photograph taken on May 28, 2021 a crow walks over salted fish laying on the ground for drying in Negombo, where plastic raw materials and other debris are washing ashore from the Singapore-re
The fire killed thousands of fish. (AFP)

“It will take a few more days to extinguish the fire completely,” admitted Vice-Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, while considering that there was no longer any danger that the vessel would break up and release at sea not only his fuel but also its cargo of 278 tonnes of bunker fuel and 50 tonnes of marine diesel.

Authorities last week said they believed the blaze was caused by a nitric acid leak that the crew had known about since May 11.

The containers run aground on the beach.
The containers run aground on the beach. (AFP)
The boat on fire on May 25.
The boat on fire on May 25. (AFP)

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