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Sri Lanka firms, China-run port, give firefighting foam for oil tanker blaze

FLOATING FIRE: VLCC MT NEW DIAMOND ablaze off the coast of Sri Lanka on September 04.

ECONOMYNEXT – A number of Sri Lanka based state and private companies have given firefighting foam to fight a blaze on board, MT New Diamond, a stricken tanker that is carrying cargo of crude oil, the Indian Ocean Island’s Navy said.

Sri Lanka Ports Authority had given 5000 litres of aqueous film forming foam, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation 2,100 litres, Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals 2,800 litres and Indian Oil Corporation 300 litres through the mediation of the Sri Lanka Marine Environment Protection Authority.

Hambantota International Port Group, a unit of China’s CM Ports group which runs Hambantota port in Sri Lanka had given 4,600 litres of AFFF and Colombo Dockyard, a publicly traded unit of the Japan’s Onomichi shipbuilding group had given 1,000 litres.

Hambantota International Port Group had also sent two tugs, Wasaba and Rawana for the operation.

A number of Sri Lankan Navy and Coastguard vessels as well Indian Coast Guard and Navy vessels and a privately chartered tugs are involved in towing the stricken vessel away from Sri Lanka’s coast and fighting its fire to prevent an oil spill and an possible ecological disaster.

“In the morning hours of today the sea area where the distressed vessel is remaining was rough and there was an increase in the speed of the sea breeze,” the Navy said.

“However the disaster relief operation still continued in such circumstances the whole day to bring the blaze under control.”

Overnight Sri Lanka and Indian vessels towed the abandoned oil tanker 40 nautical miles away from Sri Lanka’s shore after it drifted nearer to the coast.

Three capital ships, three Fast Attack Craft of Sri Lanka Navy, two Sri Lanka Coast Guard vessels, five Indian Coast Guard vessels, 01 Indian Navy vessel, ALP Winger a chartered anchor handling vessel and TTT One a fire fighting vessel chartered by the ship’s owners are in the operation as well as the two Hambantota tugs.

Sri Lanka Air Force has deployed surveillance aircraft and a firefighting helicopter.

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Two Dornier aircraft from the Indian Coast had also arrived at the Mattala airport and one had returned after the fire on board the oil tanker was controlled to some extent on Saturday.

There was no danger of an oil spill at the moment, the Navy said.

The vessel’s owners are sending a team of UK and Dutch rescue operation specialists, disaster evaluators and legal consultants to Sri Lanka.

They will arrive Mattala International Airport on Sunday and will be transferred by Navy fast attack craft to the distressed vessel.

tomorrow morning. This team of experts is scheduled to be transferred by SLN Fast Attack Craft from Kalmunei to the sea area where the distressed vessel is currently at.

At least one crew member is presumed dead, and the captain and 20 crew members are in isolation on board Sri Lanka Navy vessels. One crew member is in hospital.

The Navy said crew members will be given facilities to talk to their families on Sunday.

The
(Colombo/Sept05/2020)