MV X-Press Pearl, a Singapore-registered cargo vessel, has been on fire for a week near the Colombo beach. It is expected to sink but before that may lead to a disastrous oil spill.
A large volume of oil fromany such spill may reach Negombo, a tourist and fishing region. The 185-metre-long vessel had 325 tonnes fuel and 1,486 containers with 25 tonnes hazardous nitric acid.
The vessel was carrying chemicals and raw materials for cosmetics from Hazira in Gujarat to the Sri Lankan capital. Fire broke out in one of the containers and rapidly spread. On May 21, 2021 the Sri Lankan Navy, Sri Lanka Ports Authority and Marine Environment Protection Authority launched an operation to extinguish the fire.
Strong winds due to Cyclone Yaas hampered the efforts to put out the fire. The Indian Coast Guard sent two of its ships, Vaibhav and patrol vessel Vajra following a call for help. The two ships are equipped with external foam fire fighting and pollution response measures.
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