Sri Lanka braces for environmental disaster as ship sinks

National

This photo provided by Sri Lankan Air Force shows the sinking MV X-Press Pearl at Kapungoda where it is anchored off Colombo port, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Salvage experts were attempting to tow the fire-stricken container ship that had been loaded with chemicals into the deep sea as the vessel started to sink Wednesday. Water submerged the MV X-Press Pearl’s quarterdeck a day after firefighters extinguished a blaze that had been burning for 12 days. (Sri Lanka Air Force via AP)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) – Authorities in Sri Lanka are trying to head off a potential environmental disaster as a fire-damaged container ship that had been carrying chemicals was sinking off of the country’s main port.

The Singapore-flagged ship started sinking Wednesday, a day after authorities extinguished fire that raged on the vessel for 12 days.

Efforts to tow the ship into deeper waters failed after the ship’s stern became submerged and rested on the seabed.

The ship’s operators have said the fire destroyed most of the ship’s cargo, which included 25 tons of nitric acid and other chemicals.

But there are fears that remaining chemicals as well as hundreds of tons of oil from the vessel’s fuel tanks could leak into the sea if it sinks.

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