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Sri Lanka Tanker fire: Navy trying to locate a missing crew member as fire is brought under control

FILE PHOTO – The fire on the New Diamond s under control the Navy says

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Navy is trying to locate a missing crew-member from the crude oil carrier MT New Diamond which caught fire 38 kilometres off the eastern coast of the island, the Navy Spokesman said.

Captain Indika de Silva told EconomyNext that the fire in the engine room of the ship is now under control.

“There is no damage to the cargo area, only the engine room and some areas around it. There were 23 crew onboard” he said.

“We are bringing one injured crew member to Sri Lanka onboard one of our vessels. The captain of the ship and the engineer are still on board the stricken vessel. The bulk of the crew, 12 members were taken on board by another merchant vessel,” he said.

De Silva said, “22 people are accounted for we are looking for the one missing person.”

The rest of the crew are also on their way to Sri Lanka with the Navy.

Meanwhile, officials are still on alert for a possible spill from the stricken vessel as Sri Lanka does not have the technical capacity to deal with a massive oil spill if the ship discharges its cargo into the sea, officials warned.

Dharshani Lahandapura, Chair of the Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA) told EconomyNext that if the cargo and the diesel on board the vessel were to leak out it would have disastrous consequences.

She said Sri Lanka on its own will not be able to handle such a big disaster.

“If there is a leakage we are talking about 3.4 million metric tons of crude oil and diesel. We cannot even measure the impact of it on the environment,” Lahandapura said.

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The cargo of crude oil on board is 2.7 million tons.

She said MEPA is coordinating with the South Asian region as well as international organizations to get support to counter this situation.

“And also we have already prepared the equipment and other resources to counter a possible leakage of crude oil and we will send them to Hambantota immediately,” she said.

The vessel is the MT New Diamond and was heading to the Paradip Port in India carrying crude oil from Kuwait.

The Navy has deployed three vessels to assist the tanker and the Sri Lanka Air Force has dispatched an aircraft for surveillance.

(Colombo September 3, 2020)