A cargo ship carrying tonnes of chemicals is sinking off Sri Lanka's west coast, the country's government and navy said on Wednesday, in one of Sri Lanka's worst-ever marine disasters.
The Singapore-registered MV X-Press Pearl, carrying 1,486 containers, including 25 tonnes of nitric acid, along with other chemicals and cosmetics, was anchored off the island's west coast when a fire erupted on May 20.
Authorities have been battling the blaze since then, as flaming containers laden with chemicals have fallen from the ship's deck, the navy said last month.
|Smoke rises from a fire onboard the MV X-Press Pearl vessel in the seas off the Colombo Harbour, in Sri Lanka May 30, 2021. Photo: Sri Lanka Airforce Media/Handout via Reuters|
Tonnes of plastic pellets have swamped the island’s coastline and rich fishing grounds, creating one of the biggest environmental crises in decades, experts say.
"The salvage company involved in the X-Press Pearl has indicated that the vessel is sinking at the current position," fisheries minister Kanchana Wijesekera said in a tweet.
The government has banned fishing along an 80-kilometre stretch of coastline, affecting 5,600 fishing boats, while hundreds of soldiers have been deployed to clean the beach.
A salvage crew is towing the vessel to deeper water, Wijesekera added.