A major operation is underway after an oil tanker caught fire off Sri Lanka today.
The fire had started in the engine room of the ‘New Diamond’ ship, which was carrying crude oil from Kuwait to India.
The Marine Protection Authority said it was taking measures to prevent any possible oil leak from the tanker carrying about 2 million barrels of oil.
The Sri Lanka Navy said the ship caught fire 38 nautical miles off Sangamankanda Point east of Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lanka Navy dispatched a group of emergency relief serving ships to the location for relief assistance.
According to the distress signal received by the Maritime Rescue Coordinating Center in Colombo, the distressed oil tanker in the eastern seas had been manned by 23 crew members including 05 Greek and 18 Philippine nationals and is registered under the Panamanian Flag (IMO-9191424).
The tanker was transporting 270,000 metric tons of crude oil from the port of Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Indian port of Paradip.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Navy Ship (SLNS) Ranarisi reached the distressed vessel and embarked a Navy rescue team aboard the oil tanker before retrieving the third engineering officer of the ship.
The Philippine national engineer who sustained injuries was brought ashore and was rushed to the Kalmunai Hospital for treatment. Three Greek and 16 Philippine crew members of the tanker were rescued by another merchant vessel (MV Helen M) plying nearby and they are to be safely brought ashore by the Navy.
Besides, the captain and another member on tanker have been safely rescued by SLNS Sayura. However, one Philippine national of the crew has not been located since the time of the incident.
As of now, 03 Sri Lanka Navy ships and one Fast Attack Craft were deployed to assist the ship in distress and 02 tugs belonging to the Sri Lanka Ports Authority left the Hambantota port to assist the ship.
Two anti-submarine ships of the Russian Federation which recently arrived at the port of Hambantota for replenishment left the port of Hambantota to assist the oil tanker.
Meanwhile, Indian Coast Guard Ship “Shaurya” also reached the location and started extinguishing the fire. An Indian Coast Guard ship and 03 Indian Navy ships had also been deployed to assist in the operation. (Colombo Gazette)