Sri Lanka is eliminating the consequences of a ship fire in the Indian Ocean. The island’s shores are flooded with oil and littered with toxic chemicals, and the sand hides tons of garbage. On the beaches instead of holidaymakers, people in chemical protective suits walk around.
“The worst environmental disaster in the history of our island! Now we are trying to prevent it from spreading further along the coast and the ocean. But so far the area affected by the disaster is huge!” – said Darshani Lahadapura, head of the Maritime Safety Agency.
The container ship had been burning in coastal waters for 10 days. Preliminarily, it started because of a nitric acid leak. The crew did not prevent the flames from spreading.
“The ship was approaching the coast of the island already in an emergency condition. This in itself is a crime against the whole state. Plus we weren’t even warned about it. This is a double crime! Now we have environmental destruction all along the coastline,” said Jayasiri Jayasekara, general secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.
The ship is now standing by the shore and cannot be towed away. The fire on the ship has been extinguished, but it continues to smolder, the temperature is too high. The fuel tanks of the container ship still contained over 300 tons of fuel oil. Some of the fuel had spilled over the surface of the ocean.
“The biggest water pollution is around Negombo and Colombo. There, of course, the water is full of fuel oil. The beach is very heavily polluted with small particles of plastic, which scattered from the ship”, – commented Tamara Sanina, a local resident.
Dozens of marine animals died because of the disaster. In addition to the containers with raw materials, there were 25 tons of chemicals on board. Local residents are forbidden to touch the garbage because of its high toxicity. Fishing is limited within a radius of 80 km.