A burnt-out cargo ship has partly sunk off the coast of Sri Lanka. The damage to nature is enormous, according to the navy, due to the burning and leakage of chemicals and plastic.
But leaking oil in the tanks could potentially create an even greater environmental disaster. The oil is now flowing into the water.
The ship fire was extinguished after 13 days on Monday. The ship was carrying all kinds of chemicals and plastic. Much of it has ended up in the water, and nearby beaches are full of microplastics. Dutch SMIT Salvage helped to put out the fire on the MV X-Press Pearl.
The back of the ship has already completely submerged and rests on the bottom of the sea at 22 meters deep. The bow is still afloat. Together with SMIT, the navy had started moving the ship to deeper water, but that has stopped because the ship is too unstable. This is partly due to the large amounts of water used to extinguish the fire.
The boat had to be moved to limit the ecological consequences of the impending major oil spill off the Sri Lankan coast. The country has already taken precautions to prevent nearby bays from being polluted by oil spills.
Sri Lanka has launched a criminal investigation into the fire. The three highest-ranking ship’s crew, two Russians and one Indian, will not leave the country until the investigation is completed. Calls for persecution are growing louder in Sri Lanka as fishermen see their incomes disappear due to water pollution.