Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) said earlier today (27 May) that the X-Press Pearl, which has been burning for a week after cargo in a container caught fire, could sink within hours as the fire spreads through the ship.
X-Press Pearl, which was only delivered to the owner, Singapore operator, X-Press Feeders, in February, is carrying a cargo of, among other things, 25 tonnes of nitric acid, which it is thought is one of a cocktail of chemicals that is on fire.
Dr. Turney Pradeep Kumara, the general manager of MEPA told local news outlets today, “There is a possibility of an explosion recurring on the ship, as the fire continues to spread. The necessary arrangements have been made to face any such situation, with the required manpower and equipment on standby.”
In a statement today, X-Press Feeders said that three firefighting tugs along with helicopters, the Sri Lankan Navy and Indian coastguard are continuing their efforts to put out the blaze.
Smit Salvage teams are working with the local authorities to save the vessel and its cargo, despite the adverse weather due to the onset of South West monsoons, said the carrier statement.
“The two crew members who received leg injuries during their evacuation from the ship on the morning of Tuesday, 25 May remain in hospital in a stable condition. One of the seafarers has since tested positive for Covid-19 and has been transferred to a special facility in a military hospital for further treatment, he remains asymptomatic. The other 23 crew members are in a Colombo quarantine facility and are in good health,” said the statement.
The crew members are in contact with their families and X-Press Feeders will continue to liaise with customers about their cargo.