Concerned Sri Lankan authorities demand blaze-hit boxship heads out to sea

Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) has instructed the master of the fire struck X-Press Pearl to move the ship from its anchorage off Colombo and head out of Sri Lankan waters.

The three-month old vessel caught fire on Thursday evening. Among its cargo are 25 tons of nitric acid.

“The company that owns the ship, its local agents and the insurance agent were instructed in writing to take immediate action to control the ship’s fuel and chemicals from being mixed with the Sri Lankan marine system,” Dharshani Lahandapura, the chairman of MEPA told local media on Saturday.

The blaze has been largely contained. However, two tugs are alongside dousing the ship in a bid to control the temperature of the vessel.

“Although around 400 kilograms of dry chemicals were sprayed to contain the fire, given the difficulties in reaching inside the containers aboard the vessel, the containment efforts are not 100% successful,”Lahandapura said.

Sri Lanka has recent memories of fighting fires on ships – having had to contain a massive blaze on a Greek VLCC last year that threatened its ecosystem.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


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