Published: Tuesday 31 October 2006

Oil spill: The Sri Lankan government is still striving to deal with the oil spill that occurred in mid-September, after a Bangladeshi ship sank off the country's southern coast of Habaraduwa. The Bangladeshi merchant Vessel, Amanath Sha, was transporting a cargo of about 1,300 logs of Rangoon teak when it sank and emptied its furnace oil into the sea. According to the Marine Pollution Prevention Authority, the oil spill, still washing ashore, has badly affected the country's fishing and tourism sectors and caused the biggest environmental disaster in recent years. The cleanup cost could range up to US $750 million. Sri Lanka is also considering suing the shipping company to claim damages.

Storm fury: Over 3,000 fisherfolk and a naval commander went missing as violent storms hit the Bay of Bengal and capsized a naval ship, about 630 trawlers and 25 boats in the last week of September. The storms also hit Bangladesh's coastal belt and ravaged villages. Till reports were last received, 100 bodies were recovered from the sea. Rough weather in the Bay of Bengal also hampered the joint rescue operation by coast guard, navy and forest department personnel. Meanwhile, the met department warns that the country may further experience medium to heavy rainfall associated with gusty wind and all fishing boats and trawlers over North Bay have been advised to remain close to the coast and proceed with caution.

More items under FTA: Pakistan has added 302 items in the positive list for trade with India, after approval from its Economic Coordination Committee. With this increase, Pakistan's positive list for India figures at 1,075 items. According to an official announcement, the tradable items with India now include pharmaceutical, plastics, iron and steel, machinery and parts, diesel locomotives and surgical equipment. The new trade items are expected to boost trade between the countries, which has already crossed a US $1 billion mark.

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