Court orders security for MV X-Press Pearl till probe is over

The Colombo Magistrate’s Court has directed the Navy to provide security for the ship, MV X-Press Pearl, until ongoing investigations are over.

A criminal investigation is currently underway against the captain and crew of the ship.

X-Press Pearl caught fire on Thursday 20th May whilst at Colombo anchorage, Sri Lanka, approximately 10km offshore.

The vessel had travelled from the port of Hazira, India and was carrying 1,486 containers, including dangerous goods (nitric acid, methanol, sodium hydroxide and other chemicals) and nurdles (small plastic pellets).

It is understood that approximately 320 m2 of low sulphur heavy fuel oil was also on board as bunkers.

Despite the best efforts of salvors supported by the Sri Lankan Navy and Indian Coast Guard, attempts to control the fire were unsuccessful. All crew members were evacuated from the vessel.

As the fire took hold and spread, the container stacks collapsed and multiple containers, as well as burning liquids and debris, had fallen overboard. Four containers had washed ashore, and many more had sunk.

As at 2nd June, an estimated 150 km of shoreline is reported to have been impacted to varying degrees by assorted debris from the vessel.

The Sri Lankan Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA), together with the Sri Lankan army and the Navy are involved in clean-up efforts on the shore, focusing on the areas with the heaviest contamination.

The recovery operation comprises a mixture of mechanical and manual collection of the burnt debris and plastics. (Colombo Gazette)