ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s authorities have started a beach clean-up as charred debris from the stricken vessel X-Press Pearl drifted ashore, while a top Colombo Port official said it was not informed of any on board acid leak ahead of its fire.
The fire on the vessel and appeared to be confined to the stern section in footage released by Sri Lanka Air Force while firefighting tugs continued to spray the vessel with water from upwind.
Sri Lanka Navy, Indian Coast Guard and firefighting tugs chartered by the owners continued to fight the fre.
X-Press Pearl caught fire while anchored 9.5 kilometres off Sri Lanka’s coast, due to a leak in containers with nitric acid.
Singapore-based X-Press Feeders, said the crew found a leak in the acid containers in the Arabian Sea but ports of Hamad and Hazira in India, where it had called to pick up and discharge cargo, had refused requests to offload the boxes, which then caught fire off Colombo.
“We were not informed of the acid leak,” Sri Lanka Ports Authority Chairman Daya Ratnayake told Sri Lanka privately run Derana TV.
“That is a problem. We are looking into that.”
Sri Lanka was continuing to clean up beaches north of Colombo where debris was washing up.
On May 26, beachcombers were seen salvaging plastic granule sacks before they broke up and polluted the water. Police however said eight had been arrested.
It is not clear whether beach combing is a crime in Sri Lanka. They had violated quarantine regulations with the country under lockdown, police said.
In most countries volunteer salvors are entitled to a part of a wreck including jetsam or flotsam, especially when they take risks to do so, observers say. However they have to be reported.
General salvage had already been declared on the vessel, a specific insurance condition applying to loss-sharing of the the vessel and its cargo, an X-Press Feeders official was quoted as saying in a media report.
Authorities had also warned the public to stay away from the beach, as the burning cargo would generate chemical particles harmful to human life.