Disasters & Accidents

Fresh blaze reported on fire-stricken oil tanker off Sri Lankan coast

Colombo, Sep 7 (efe-epa).- A fresh blaze was reported on Monday in the oil tanker New Diamond off the coast of Sri Lanka, a day after authorities had declared that the fire that first broke out onboard the ship on Thursday had been successfully extinguished.

Sri Lanka navy spokesperson Indika de Silva told EFE that the fire had broken out on the ship again at around 4.30 pm on Monday, adding that it was too soon to evaluate the seriousness of the incident.

“We can see flames, as we had seen previously on the oil tanker, and also massive black smoke. Fourteen vessels are attempting to douse the fire,” de Silva said.

The firefighting fleet includes five tugboats and nine warships from Sri Lanka and India, assisted by a Dornier aircraft of the Indian coast guard, which is maintaining surveillance in the area.

The Sri Lankan navy said that the fire had reignited due to effect of extremely high temperatures of the metal in the affected part of the ship and fresh sparks.

The Indian coast guard tweeted that the firefighting operation was still on “despite adverse weather conditions.”

The tanker is situated around 30 nautical miles from Sangamankanda, on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka, according to authorities.

The New Diamond – registered in Panama – was carrying about 2.7 million tonnes of crude oil from Kuwait to India’s Paradip seaport that houses a major oil refinery owned by the state-run firm Indian Oil.

Sri Lanka announced on Sunday that the fire on the tanker had been controlled without it reaching the cargo area or causing an oil spill.

One crew member had been killed in the accident, while 22 others were rescued.

A group of experts from the United Kingdom and New Zealand had arrived in Sri Lanka on Sunday to assess the situation onboard the ship, while the attorney general of Sri Lanka has ordered an assessment of the environmental damage caused by the fire.

The incident has caused fears of an environmental disaster in Sri Lanka and Maldives among organizations working to protect the marine ecology.

The incident comes a month after another Panamanian ship carrying 4,000 tons of fuel spilled part of its cargo in waters close to Mauritius after the tanker ran aground and suffered major damage. EFE-EPA


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