Colombo, May 26 (Xinhua): Sri Lankan authorities said on Wednesday They are monitoring an oil spill from a burning foreign vessel near the Port of Colombo, warning that the oil spill may waft towards the Negombo lagoon in the west coast of the country.
People of Kapungoda, north of Colombo, were collecting material from the ship X-Press Pearl, which were being washed ashore.
Till Wednesday noon, rescue teams from the Sri Lanka Navy and the Indian Navy were involved in joint efforts to douse the flames on board the container ship “X-PRESS PEARL” registered under the flag of Singapore, which was carrying 1,486 containers with 25 tons of Nitric Acid and several other chemicals and cosmetics from the port of Hazira, India on May 15.
Sri Lankan State Minister of Fisheries Kanchana Wijesekera said that by Tuesday evening signs of oil spills were found in the ocean near the burning vessel and the fisheries Department, the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA), the navy, the coast guard and other authorities were all working to contain the oil spill and minimize the damage to the marine environment.
Wijesekera said debris and cargo from the ship had been spotted along the beach in Negombo by local fishermen in the area and a cargo container had also been spotted early Wednesday in the same area.
The latest video footage released by the Navy showed that the vessel is still engulfed by flames and rescue teams were trying to douse the fire.
Wijesekera further said that on the instructions of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a team of experts is working to contain and clean the oil spill and debris from the ship.
The Sri Lanka Air Force said Bell 212 helicopters had dropped 425 kgs of dry chemical powder on Wednesday morning to help extinguish the fire.
The 25 crew members onboard the vessel were all rescued by the Sri Lanka Navy on Tuesday, and two injured Indian nationals among the rescued had been sent to a hospital for treatment, according to the Navy.
The crew members of the ship are Filipinos, Chinese, Indian, and Russian nationals.
On Wednesday, health authorities said one of the Indian crew members had tested positive for COVID-19.
The vessel sent out a distress call while being close to the Colombo Port on May 20. After it caught fire, the Sri Lankan Navy immediately dispatched vessels to bring the fire under control.