sign prohibiting electrical pulse fishing
ecological disaster

After 13 days of fire, the MV X-Press Pearl has begun to sink, suggesting an imminent oil spill.

On May 20th, the containers’ ship was sailing from Gujarat, India, to Colombo when a fire broke out on board.

The Singapore registered ship was carrying 25 tonnes of nitric acid and other chemicals, as well as 28 containers of plastic raw materials, most of which fell into the sea.

As per the prelim reports, the fire is due to a chemical reaction in one of these International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) containers. As a reminder, the IMDG containers are specialized to carry dangerous cargos safely.

After it weakened the structure of the 186 m long ship, the fire on board the MV X-Press Pearl has now been extinguished thanks to an international operation.

The Sri Lankan Navy received reinforcements from the Indian coastguard and tugs chartered by SMIT International to fight the flames that destroyed most of the ship’s 1,500 or so containers. Today the MV X-Press Pearl is towed to deeper waters.

The fire has caused a massive spill of microplastic pellets that fouled Sri Lankan beaches, leading to a fishing ban and fears of ecological disaster.

A crab amidst of microplastic beads that fouled Sri Lankan beaches
A crab amidst of microplastic beads that fouled Sri Lankan beaches (Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

The area of pollution stretches for about 80 km along the island’s tourist beaches, shallow water fishing grounds and fragile mangrove and lagoon ecosystems.

The Sri Lanka marine pollution control authority has announced that a water leak in the rear of the ship could lead to sudden oil spill, resulting in a loss of stability in the back of the ship.

Authorities are working to contain and clean up the oil spill to minimize the damage to marine environment.

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