The fire ravaged containership X-Press Pearl began sinking today off the coast of Sri Lanka, leading to fears of a worsening environmental disaster. As of the last report, the stern of the containership has touched bottom while the forward section remains above the water. Sri Lanka has banned shipping and fishing in the area, while the Navy reports that it is prepared to deal with possible oil leaks from the ship’s bunkers.
The first efforts by the salvage team to make a towing connection to the ship, which remained anchored 9.5 miles off Colombo, failed due to the ocean swell and the movement of the tug. The decision was made to abort the operation for safety reasons, but later with the assistance of the Sri Lanka Navy the salvage team was able to get back aboard the X-Press Pearl.
The tow was underway when the stern of the vessel began to sink. The operation was again suspended for the safety of the salvage crew and the tugboat. The Navy reported late today that the stern touched bottom at a depth of approximately 70 feet. Pictures show the forward section above water heeling to starboard.
(Photos courtesy of Sri Lank Navy, Air Force and Ports Authority)