ECONOMYNEXT – India has dispatched a fleet of coast guard vessels and a maritime reconnaissance aircraft to help Sri Lanka fight a fire and contain an oil spill in a Singapore flagged vessel that is ablaze off the island’s coast.
Sri Lanka had sought help at 1200hours on May 25, India’s High Commission (embassy) in Colombo said.
Containers aboard the vessel X-Press Pearl caught fire while anchored off Colombo Port and the fire was initially doused. However the fire re-ignited on May 24 and spread fanned by strong winds.
Sri Lanka’s Maritime Environmental Protection Agency said a Tier II oil spill had been declared by late afternoon but it could be escalated.
“India promptly responded to an emergency request by Sri Lanka Navy and deployed multiple assets to douse the fire..,” the statement said.
“This includes Vessels Vaibhav, Vajra and Samudra Prehari by Indian Coast Guard and Tug Water Lilly by Director General, Shipping in addition to Dornier aircraft for aerial reconnaissance.
“Assistance of Government of India for firefighting as well as pollution control was sought by Sri Lanka Navy.”
The stricken vessel had about 300 metric tonnes of fuel onboard and a spill of about 100 tonnes was initially estimated.
Sri Lanka Navy and Sri Lanka Ports Authority vessels as well as a offshore supply ship Posh Teal with fire fighting capabilities was also sent by the vessels owners. A team from Netherlands based SMIT Salvage had also arrived. (Colombo/May25/2021)