Written by Zulfick Farzan
26 May, 2021 | 2:23 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st); Sri Lankan authorities have issued a strong warning to the general public to refrain from coming into contact with any debris that washes up on Sri Lanka’s western coast following a massive inferno aboard the container ship named the MV X-PRESS PEARL.
Reports on Wednesday (26) morning noted that people in many areas had rushed to the coastal belt to pick up debris from the blazing ship.
The Sri Lanka Navy also deployed personnel along the western coast to prevent the people from rushing to the beach to collect debris that washed ashore.
The fire that broke out in the forecastle area of the MV X-PRESS PEARL, a container ship anchored 9.5 nautical miles northwest of the Port of Colombo, has now extended to the quarterdeck where the bridge is stationed.
Further, it is observed that the containers and various parts that are falling overboard the distressed ship wash ashore.
As such, the Sri Lanka Navy along with Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) is paying special attention on debris wash ashore from the fire-stricken ship and has launched a special security arrangement with the Sri Lanka Coast Guard to investigate the impact on the coastal environment and educate the general public in coastal areas from Dickowita to Chilaw which are likely to gather more debris from the distressed ship.
Similarly, the same arrangement is in place covering the coastline from Wellawatte to Panadura.
Meanwhile, a partly burned container washed ashore at Thalahena beach in Negombo on Wednesday (26th May 2021) and it is believed to be a container that fell overboard the fire-hit vessel.
It is possible that containers and other debris falling from the distressed ship from time to time, to reach the coast along Dikovita to Chilaw as revealed by the model of the current weather pattern.
Therefore, the general public and fishing community are cautioned not to get in touch with such elements as they could carry harmful chemicals.
In the meantime, Sri Lanka Naval Ship Sindurala as well as Indian Coast Guard Maritime Pollution Control Ships ‘Vajra’ and ‘Vaibhav’ have been deployed on the site where MV X-PRESS PEARL is lying.
“Our advice to the general public and community in the close proximity is NOT to touch anything and NOT to take anything home, because some of these containers may contain highly toxic material hazardous to human health and the environment. DON’T go closer to it or open anything. Also, DON’T take anything because all these are properties of the Secretariat of Merchant Shipping and it is an offense to take anything. We do NOT know what is there; there maybe germs, contaminated things, and especially chemicals that are highly toxic. So do NOT take anything from the debris that had grounded from the X-PRESS PEARL,” Dharshani Lahandapura, the Chairperson of the Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) advised the people.
Sri Lanka Air Force once again on Wednesday (26) dropped 425 kilograms Dry Chemical Powder onto the MV X-Press Pearl in an attempt to contain the fire, said Group Captain Dushan Wijesinghe – Spokesperson for the Sri Lanka Air Force.
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