Experts join efforts to salvage burning tanker off Sri Lanka

International

In this photo provided by Sri Lanka Air Force, a chopper flies through smoke rising from the MT New Diamond, off the eastern coast of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean,, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. The fire on the large oil tanker off Sri Lanka’s coast has been brought under control but is still not extinguished, the navy said Saturday. The tanker, carrying nearly 2 million barrels of crude oil, was drifting about 20 nautical miles (37 kilometers) from Sri Lanka’s eastern coast and on Friday evening a tug boat towed it to the deep sea away from land, said navy spokesman Capt. Indika de Silva. (Sri Lanka Air Force via AP)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A team of experts is joining efforts to salvage a large oil tanker that has been burning for the fourth day Sunday off Sri Lanka, the country’s navy said.

Four tug boats, three Sri Lankan navy ships and six Indian ships have been battling the fire on the MT New Diamond since Thursday. An additional five Sri Lankan coast guard ships and gun boats are supplying the others vessels.

Navy spokesman Indika de Silva said the fire on the ship has been brought under control but is still not extinguished. There was no leak.

A team led by an expert is already on one of the tug boats while another 10 British and Dutch professionals including rescue operation specialists, disaster evaluators and legal consultants are expected to join the mission on Sunday, the navy said.

With engines shut down, the tanker carrying nearly 2 million barrels of crude oil drifted about 20 nautical miles (37 kilometers) from Sri Lanka’s eastern coast on Friday before a tug boat towed it farther out to sea. It’s now located about 40 nautical miles (74 kilometers) off the coast.

As ships and helicopters continue to douse flames, the navy said there was a risk of occasional fires due to deep sea winds but they’re being controlled.

The fire killed one crew member and injured another. Both are Filipino. The injured third engineer was hospitalized in stable condition.

The fire began in an engine room boiler but had not spread to the tanker’s oil storage area and no leak has been reported, the navy said. Sri Lankan officials have warned of possible massive environmental damage to Sri Lanka if the ship leaks or explodes.

The head of Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority, Darshani Lahandapur, said Sri Lanka does not have the resources or capacity to combat such a massive disaster and had appealed for help from regional countries. She said her organisation plans to take legal action over the fire.

The tanker had 23 crew members — 18 Filipinos and five Greeks. Twenty-one crew left the tanker uninjured as the fire burned.

The tanker was transporting crude oil from the port of Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Indian port of Paradip, where the state-owned Indian Oil Corp. has a refinery.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Recent Updates

More 7 Day Forecast

More Political Stories

More Politics

Trending Stories

Don't Miss

Trending Stories