A container ship erupted in flames off the Colombo Port yesterday. The Sri Lanka Navy and the Sri Lanka Port Authority (SLPA) launched a major operation to bring the fire under control.
The Sri Lanka Navy had responded immediately to a distress call on-board a container ship ‘X-PRESS PEARL’ on Thursday afternoon (20) and had promptly dispatched two Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), the Sri Lanka Naval Ships (SLNS) Sagara and Sindurala and a Fast Attack Craft (FAC) to the scene to douse the fire on-board the ship.
Further, a Tug from the SLPA was also deployed for firefighting efforts. The container ship was in anchorage about 9.5 Nautical Miles northwest of Colombo Port as the incident was reported. Speaking to the Daily News, Navy Spokesman Captain Indika de Silva said that on Thursday afternoon smoke was seen emanating from the ship carrying chemicals. The fire is suspected to be a result of a chemical reaction.
The vessel which is registered under the flag of Singapore is carrying 1,486 containers containing 25 tons of Nitric Acid,
several other chemicals and cosmetics which had left the port of Hazira, India on May 15. The ship had faced this blaze while it was anchored about 9.5 nautical miles off Colombo Harbour, having arrived to the location on 19th May before its entry into the Port. The distressed container ship was manned by a crew of 25, who are Philippine, Chinese, Indian and Russian nationals.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) had deployed a Bell 212 helicopter to assist in dousing the fire by spraying 425 kg of dry fire retardant chemicals. Air Force Spokesman Group Captain Dushan Wijesinghe told the Daily News that the Air Force crew on-board the helicopter had to brave the inclement weather in dropping the chemicals on the fire.Due to the chemicals on-board, the fire could not be fully doused by yesterday evening and the fire-fighting crews were on standby.