Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, September 25th, 2020

Supertanker Fire Off Sri Lanka Under Control as Navy Tows It Away

Supertanker Fire Off Sri Lanka  Under Control as Navy Tows It Away

COLOMBO - A fire-stricken oil tanker has been pushed away from Sri Lanka's coast and into deeper waters on Saturday, rescuers said, after successfully containing the blaze during a 36-hour operation.
Sri Lankan navy spokesman Captain Indika de Silva said the 330-metre (1,000-foot) ship is being held some 40km (25 miles) east of Sri Lanka, while firefighting boats spray it with water.
"The fire is under control but not out yet," de Silva said. "We are keeping the ship in a location that is far enough from the shore in case there is an oil leak so that our shoreline does not get damaged."
The fire broke out in the engine room of the Panama-registered New Diamond on Thursday morning, and it has spread to the bridge of the ship, which was carrying about two million barrels of oil.
A rescue and salvage effort that also involved the Indian and Russian navies brought the fire under control on Friday, before it could reach the vessel's cargo area.
There was no immediate danger of the tanker breaking up despite a two-metre (6.6 feet) crack in the hull 10 metres above the water line, the navy said.
The fire was triggered by an engine room explosion that killed a Filipino crewman on Thursday morning as the vessel was passing Sri Lanka on its way to the Indian port of Paradip.
De Silva said there were 23 crew on board. "There were five Greek and 18 Philippine nationals among the crew," he said.
But Dharshani Lahandapura, chair of Sri Lanka's Marine Environment Protection Authority, told Reuters news agency that any spill from the ship would be catastrophic for marine life.
"It will be a huge environmental and economic disaster if this happens," she said.
The vessel is larger than the Japanese bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which crashed into a reef in Mauritius in July leaking more than 1,000 tonnes of oil into the island nation's pristine waters.
The Maldives, which neighbours Sri Lanka, has raised concerns that any oil spill from the New Diamond could cause serious environmental damage in the atoll of more than 1,000 coral islands that is heavily dependent on tourism and fishing. (Aljazeera)