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Friday June 18th, 2021
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X-Press Pearl stern hits bottom aborting tow, Sri Lanka renews oil spill watch

ECONOMYNEXT – Salvors have stopped towing the fire-gutted container ship X-Press Pearl after its stern hit the ocean floor and authorities are keeping a close watch for any oil spill, Sri Lanka Navy spokesman Captain Indika de Silva said.

Salvors fixed a tow rope to this ship on the morning of June 02.

“The salvors tried to tow the ship away,” Captain de Silva told EconomyNext. “After trying for hours the ship’s stern hit the ocean bed so the ship was only towed a few hundred metres away.

The stern of the ship has now settled on the bottom and the bow is still floating, he said.

Pictures released by Sri Lanka Air Force showed the foredeck of the X-Press Pearl awash with stern underwater and the superstructure with the bridge and funnel sticking out of the water.

X-Press Pearl was carrying over 300 tonnes of ship fuel when it caught fire. It is not clear whether the fierce flames that gutted the ship had also consumed the bunker oil.

“We are actually getting ready for an oil spill that might come up in a few days,” Captain de Silva said. “We don’t know yet but we are getting ready.”

Sri Lanka Coast Guard, the Port Authority has some equipment to contain an oil spill.

Booms have also been placed across the Negombo lagoon.

The Indian Coast Guard has also sent a pollution control vessel.

Sri Lanka Air Force pictures of the partially sunken vessel showed stacked containers hanging precariously on its tilted deck, apparently still lashed to each other. (Colombo/June02/2021)

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