Monsoon delays the salvage of fire-ravaged ships off the coast of Sri Lanka | Environmental News

Sri Lanka stated that due to turbulent monsoon waves, it may take months for the sunk container ship to be salvaged because it is seeking the United Nations to help assess the damage.

Sri Lanka said that due to the turbulent monsoon waves, a sinking container ship damaged by the fire may take months to salvage, as the authorities are investigating whether the deaths of dozens of sea turtles and dolphins were caused by the disaster.

Part of the MV X-Press Pearl registered in Singapore caught fire near the coast of the island nation for nearly two weeks, and was flooded in early June, releasing large amounts of plastic raw materials and flooding local beaches.

Nalaka Godahewa, Minister of State for Urban Development and Coastal Protection, said on Tuesday that he hopes the ship will be dismantled to avoid further pollution risks.

Godahwa told reporters in the capital Colombo: “We hope to remove the sunken ship yesterday, but under current conditions, rescuers cannot start working.”

The monsoon season starts this month and usually ends in September.

Smoke billowed from the container ship as it was towed off the coast of Colombo [File: Ishara S Kodikara/AFP]

Salvors believes that the ship’s fuel was consumed in the fire, but Godahewa said that the authorities are still waiting for a possible leak.

In the past few weeks, after dozens of sea turtles and dolphins have been washed ashore, wildlife authorities on the island are also investigating the deaths of some sea turtles and dolphins.

Godahewa said that an autopsy is being conducted to determine if they died due to pollution from the ship after the 12-day fire.

The United Nations helps assess the damage

The investigation was conducted before three UNEP experts arrived on Wednesday to help the South Asian country estimate the damage caused by the incident.

Godahewa said that the government contacted the United Nations and some other countries because “domestic expertise is not enough to accurately calculate the loss.” He did not specify other countries.

It is understood that when the ship caught fire, it contained 81 hazardous chemical containers, including 25 tons of nitric acid.

Sri Lanka is seeking US$40 million in compensation from the ship’s operator, X-Press Feeders, in response to what officials call the “most serious marine disaster” in the country’s history.

Environmentalists sued the government and X-Press Feeders for allegedly failing to prevent the disaster, and the Sri Lankan police launched a criminal investigation into the ship’s captain, chief engineer and chief officer.

Police arrested Tyutkalo Vitaly, the Russian captain of the ship, on Monday. He appeared before the magistrate and was later released on bail. The court barred him from going abroad. The case will be heard again on July 1.

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