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Fire on oil supertanker off Sri Lanka extinguished after four days

Photo of Paradip Port

A fire on a fully loaded oil supertanker off Sri Lanka’s coast broke out last Thursday in the engine room and was doused on Sunday.

The supertanker was carrying nearly 2 million barrels of crude oil and drifted about 37 Km from Sri Lanka’s eastern coast on Friday before several tugboats towed it farther out to sea, keeping it about 30 nautical miles,  East of Sangaman point - Sri Lanka’s easternmost point in the Ampara district. Despite this effort, Tamil settlements close to the incident are experiencing difficulties and have reported increased smoke pollution. 

 The tanker was en-route from Kuwait to the Indian port of Paradip when it issued a distress call on Thursday after an engine room explosion killed a crew member and injured two more.

The fire did not spread to the tanker’s oil storage and no leak has been reported as of yet, but experts express their fears of an environmental disaster if there is a leak. However, another fire erupted onboard on Monday.

After the fire was put out the vice-admiral of Sri Lanka’s Navy stated, “the tanker's (steel) plates are still very hot so there is a risk of reigniting new fires.”

To keep the steel plates cool, tugboats have been spraying water onto the ship but “there are still several small fires still burning,” says Navy spokesman

Read Reuters, Al Jazeera, and CTV News.

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