The MV X-Press Pearl ship this Wednesday, in Sri Lanka. (Photo: Sri Lanka Air Force / AP)
A container ship that carried tons of chemicals and suffered a fire almost two weeks ago off the coast of Sri Lanka is almost completely submerged after beginning to sink on Wednesday, raising fears of an oil spill with catastrophic consequences for the environment.
“The ship has sunk and only the front part remains afloat, although it is also going to sink,” the Sri Lankan Navy spokesman, Captain Indika da Silva, informed Efe. The X-PRESS PEARL, carrying about 1,500 containers loaded with nitric acid and other chemicals, began sinking near the island nation’s west coast on Wednesday.
Da Silva explained that the main concern of the authorities at this time is an oil leak. “We are doing everything we can to contain any spill,” he added. Photos taken by the country’s air force showed the charred remains of the ship spewing white smoke as it leaned to the right and began to sink. Part of the hull soon touched the seabed, just 22 meters deep in the immediate area.
The Vice Minister of Fisheries, Kanchana Wijesekera, had advanced on Twitter that “the ship X-PRESS PEARL has begun to sink and has been transported into deeper waters by a dismantling company with the support of the Navy and other parties involved.” Wijesekera said authorities are taking steps to protect the nearby Negombo lagoon and surrounding coastal areas from the possibility of an oil spill.
The fire on the Singapore-flagged vessel started almost two weeks ago when it was en route to Colombo. The authorities …
This article originally appeared on The HuffPost and has been updated.