Do not touch ‘toxic’ debris from ‘X-Press Pearl’ - MEPA

Do not touch ‘toxic’ debris from ‘X-Press Pearl’ - MEPA

May 25, 2021   04:33 pm

Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA) says that floating toxic/poisonous material or packages from the burning and abandoned ship ‘X-Press Pearl’ may reach the shores of Colombo, Negombo, and nearby areas.

However, the public has been strictly warned against touching or opening such material or packages.

The public is requested to contact the Sri Lanka Navy or the Police upon the sight of any such items.

Meanwhile, the Government of India has deployed multiple assets to douse the fire on the ship. Indian Coast Guard (ICG) Vaibhav, ICG Dornier, and Tug Water Lily have been deployed to the scene.

An explosion was observed this morning (May 25) onboard the container ship ‘X-Press Pearl’ engulfed in fire off the Colombo Harbour.

Eight cargo containers fallen into the sea and the vessel is reported to be unstable, the Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA) stated.

Sri Lanka Navy has rescued 25 crew members from the cargo ship. Two injured Indian nationals among the rescued have been hospitalised for treatment, according to the Navy.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) has deployed Bell-212 helicopters to drop dry chemical powder on ‘X-Press Pearl’ to douse the fire, the SLAF spokesman stated.

A fire erupted in the cargo vessel ‘X-Press Pearl’ carrying Nitric Acid and other chemicals on Thursday afternoon (May 20).

The container ship in anchorage about 9.5 nautical miles northwest of Colombo harbour at the time of the incident. The vessel had reached the location on May 19 before its entry into the harbour.

The vessel, registered under the flag of Singapore, had departed with 1,486 containers with 25 tons of Nitric Acid, several other chemicals, and cosmetics from the port of Hazira, India on May 15.

The distressed container ship was reportedly manned by a crew of 25, who are Philippine, Chinese, Indian, and Russian nationals.

Meanwhile, State Minister of Fisheries Kanchana Wijesekara stated that there are signs of an oil spill in the region where the ‘X-Press Pearl’  is currently ablaze. He said that the Department of Fisheries is working together with MEPA, Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Coast Guard, and other authorities to contain and clean up the oil spill to minimize the damage to the marine environment.

 

There are signs of #oilspill in to the ocean from the X-Press Pearl vessel. Department of #Fisheries is working together with MEPA, Navy, CoastGuard and other authorities to contain and clean up the oil spill to minimize the damage to the #marineenvironment. pic.twitter.com/2dDP781inX

— Kanchana Wijesekera (@kanchana_wij) May 25, 2021

Wijesekara previously tweeted informing that several containers from the vessel had fallen into the sea  and that fishermen are warned not to go near the containers as some of them could carry ‘dangerous chemicals’
He urged the public to inform the authorities in case they spot any such containers.

Some #Containers have fallen in to #sea from #XPressPearl vessel that had a blast this morning. #Fishermen are warned not to go close to the containers as some of them could carry dangerous #chemicals and are urged to inform the authorities in case they spot any containers. pic.twitter.com/ToMEAdke3h

— Kanchana Wijesekera (@kanchana_wij) May 25, 2021
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