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Firefighting continues on ravaged X-Press Pearl as Sri Lanka assesses widespread environmental damage

Firefighting continues on ravaged X-Press Pearl as Sri Lanka assesses widespread environmental damage
The ship, carrying 25 tons of nitric acid among 1,486 containers it was taking from the Middle East to Singapore, first alerted Colombo Port to a fire onboard last Thursday.

Firefighting operations continued for a seventh day Thursday on the badly burnt 2,700 teu X-Press Pearl, with some hopeful signs in the afternoon off Colombo as the smoke from the ship turned from pitch black to white, suggesting the worst of the blaze had been doused for now.

The ship, carrying 25 tons of nitric acid among 1,486 containers it was taking from the Middle East to Singapore, first alerted Colombo Port to a fire onboard last Thursday.

Sri Lankan authorities warned that the ship could sink today, as well as urging locals to keep away from potentially toxic debris washing up on the nation’s shores.

The vessel, anchored outside Colombo harbour, is carrying 278 tonnes of bunker oil and 50 tonnes of marine gasoil.

The fire is believed to have started in a container of poorly packaged nitric acid. Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) also warned today of the risk of acid rain falling across the island after a week’s worth of dangerous nitrogen oxide gas has been spewing into the atmosphere from the burning ship.

The crew of the boxship are now in quarantine after one of the team was found to have Covid-19.

Politicians faced criticism today for allowing the ship to call after it was not allowed to offload leaking boxes in India and Qatar.

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