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Trail of diesel from burning oil tanker threatens East coast

An oil tanker that has been on fire since last week has left a mile-long slick across the Indian Ocean, that environmentalists fear may damage the East coast of the island.

The blazing tanker had reignited after an initial fire was brought under control. Strong winds on Sunday had caused the new blaze and pushed the tanker 20 kilometres closer to the Eastern shores. The Sri Lankan navy said the new fire was brought under control on Wednesday, but a kilometre-long trail of diesel has been left in its tracks. 

The New Diamond vessel was carrying 270,000 tonnes of crude oil and 1,700 tonnes of diesel. The tanker was transporting crude oil from Kuwait to India and had 23 crew members, made up of 18 Filipinos and five Greeks. The fire killed one Filipino crew member in a boiler room explosion and injured another. 

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) deployed an aircraft used chemical dispersants to control the environmental impact. The ICG also provide 2,200 kilos of dry chemical powder to the Sri Lankan air force to use as fire-retardant. 

The ship was pulled back to a location 68 kilometres from the land by a tug boat, according to the navy. The blaze had not reached the crude oil cargo, it added 

Sri Lanka’s chief prosecutor, Dappula De Livera, told local marine authorities to make a claim for damages caused by the blaze and to prepare cost and environmental damage assessments.

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