A cargo ship carrying tons 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 maritime 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 west coast of the island when a fire broke out on 20 May.
The Navy said last month that officials have been battling the fire since flammable containers loaded with chemicals fell from the deck of the ship.
Experts say tons of plastic pellets have swallowed the island’s coastline and rich fishing grounds, creating the biggest environmental crisis in decades.
“The rescue company involved in X-Press Pearl has indicated that the vessel is sinking in the present condition,” Fisheries Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said in a tweet.
The government has banned fishing in an 80-km stretch of the beach, affecting 5,600 fishing boats, while hundreds of soldiers have been deployed to clean up the beach.
A rescue team is escorting the ship into deeper waters, Wijesekera said.
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