Sri Lanka police investigate fire on ship off Colombo

May 31, 2021, 3:00 AM | Updated: 4:14 am

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A special Sri Lankan police team has begun investigating a fire on a ship anchored off its capital, as the government seeks to take legal action against the vessel’s owners over the incident, which has caused severe marine pollution, officials said Monday.

The fire on the MV X-Press Pearl has been burning since May 20, ravaging the ship, which officials said is only about five months old.

Navy spokesman Capt. Indika de Silva said the flames are still burning but have been reduced to “small spot fires” in the aft of the ship. Firefighting tugboats continue to spray the vessel, with support from vessels from the Sri Lankan navy and Indian coast guard.

Police spokesperson Ajith Rohana said a special 10-member team from the police Criminal Investigation Department has been assigned the probe. It is to question the ship’s captain and chief engineer on Monday.

The vessel’s 25-member crew was evacuated on May 25 after an explosion. It includes Philippine, Chinese, Indian and Russian nationals.

The navy believes the fire was caused by chemicals being transported on the Singapore-flagged ship. It was carrying 1,486 containers, including 25 tons of nitric acid and other chemicals that were loaded at the port of Hazira, India, on May 15. The fire has destroyed most of the ship’s cargo.

Debris — including several tons of plastic pellets used to make plastic bags — from the burning ship has washed ashore and is causing severe pollution on beaches. The government has banned fishing along about 80 kilometers (50 miles) of the coast.

Authorities have also warned residents not to touch the debris because it could be contaminated with harmful chemicals.

The government’s Marine Environment Protection Authority says chemicals have mixed with the seawater and could cause severe damage to marine species and coral reefs.

Local television channels are showing dead fish, turtles and other marine life that has washed ashore in recent days.

The X-Press Pearl was anchored about 9.5 nautical miles (18 kilometers) northwest of Colombo and waiting to enter its port when the fire began.

X-Press Feeders, the operator of the ship, said on Sunday that the vessel’s hull remains structurally intact and there has been no loss of oil into the port’s waters.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Morocco's Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch, center right, and Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, right,...
Associated Press

Spanish, Moroccan prime ministers meet to improve ties

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — The governments of Spain and Morocco held wide-ranging meetings Thursday aimed at turning the page on diplomatic tensions and striking deals on customs crossings and business development. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez arrived in Rabat on Wednesday along with 11 government ministers, and spoke alongside Moroccan couterpart Aziz Akhannouch at an […]
5 hours ago
FILE - Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store speaks as he arrives to attend the Joint Expeditio...
Associated Press

Norway PM says oil profile to fund more aid to Ukraine

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre of Norway said Thursday that the oil-rich Scandinavian country will become one of the world’s top donors to Ukraine when his two-party center-left government presents another planned military and civilian aid package. Norway’s profits from oil will finance the additional aid, and there will be a […]
5 hours ago
FILE - President Bill Clinton reaches for a pen as he signs the Family Leave Bill into law during a...
Associated Press

Joe Biden, Bill Clinton mark 3 decades of family leave act

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is playing host to former President Bill Clinton to mark the 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the first piece of legislation that the 42nd president signed into law after taking office in 1993. Biden and Clinton will take part in an event Thursday at the […]
5 hours ago
European lawmakers vote to elect a vice-president of European Parliament, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023 ...
Associated Press

EU assembly lifts immunity of 2 lawmakers linked to scandal

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union’s parliament on Thursday removed the protective immunity of two lawmakers linked to one of the bloc’s biggest-ever corruption scandals, paving the way for them to be questioned by Belgian investigators. In a show of hands, the assembly voted overwhelmingly to lift the parliamentary immunity of Belgian lawmaker Marc Tarabella […]
5 hours ago
Signs at a shell petrol station in London, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. Global energy giant Shell says a...
Associated Press

Shell profit doubles to record as war drives up energy costs

LONDON (AP) — Global energy giant Shell said Thursday that its annual profits doubled to a record high last year as oil and natural gas prices soared after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. London-based Shell Plc posted adjusted earnings of $39.9 billion for 2022 in its financial results for the final three months of the year. […]
5 hours ago
FILE - A view of the German consulate in Istanbul, on June 2, 2016. Turkey has slammed a group of W...
Associated Press

Turkey slams West for security warnings ‘harming’ tourism

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey on Thursday slammed a group of Western countries which temporarily closed down their consulates in Istanbul over security concerns, accusing them of waging “psychological warfare” and attempting to wreck Turkey’s tourism. Germany, the Netherlands and Britain were among countries that shut down their consulates in the city of around 16 […]
5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Sri Lanka police investigate fire on ship off Colombo