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Salvage experts reach Sri Lanka Burning Supertanker MT New Diamond- Navy

KEEPING THE SHIP COOL – Most of the fires on board the Supertanker MT New Diamond are out but tugs are keeping the stricken vessel cool/SLAF handout photo

ECONOMYNEXT – A team of six experts is now at the location of the burning Supertanker MT New Diamond and are expected to conduct an assessment of the current situation, officials said.

The Sri Lanka Navy spokesman Captain Indika de Silva said that eleven members of the team of experts rare still ashore in Sri Lanka and will be taken to the location of the stricken vessel later.

Several tugboats surrounding the Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) are keeping it approximately 30 Nautical Miles which is around 58 km east of Sangaman point, Sri Lanka’s easternmost place which is in the Ampara district.

“We are spraying water on to the ship to keep it cool as there are several small fires still burning,” de Silva told EconomyNext.

The Supertanker which has more than a quarter of a million tonnes of crude oil on board is adrift and has to be held in position by tugboats.

Salvage operations are expected to begin shortly, but “the ship will be allowed to be moved out of Sri Lankan waters only with our permission,” de Silva said.

Yesterday Sri Lanka began the process of estimating the financial and environmental cost of the crisis created by the fire on board the ship.

The Attorney-General’s department said senior officials met to discuss the way forward, including the cost incurred by the country in the rescue missions and fire-fighting.

Two Indian Coastguard vessels are also deployed in the operation.

Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEOA) is also expected to visit the site and assess whether there has been any damage to the environment.

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As of Sunday morning, there was no oil spill, the Navy said.

The 299,000 deadweight tonne tanker caught fire off the coast of Sri Lanka while transporting crude oil from Kuwait to India.

Twenty crew members from the New Diamond are now on board the Sri Lanka Navy ship Sindurala. Arrangements are being made for them to talk to family members, the Navy said.

At least one crew member is presumed dead and another is being treated in hospital.

(Colombo September 7, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

 

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