Oil Tanker Sinking Off Sri Lanka Coast Could ‘Destroy Bottom Of The Sea’

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 02 Jun 2021 13:49
Oil Tanker Sinking Off Sri Lanka Coast Could 'Destroy Bottom Of The Sea', Navy Warns PA Images/Sri Lanka Air Force

An oil tanker sinking off the coast of Sri Lanka has sparked fears of an environmental disaster.

The X-Press Pearl had been on fire for several days before it was put out earlier this week.


Now, if the ship sinks off Sri Lanka‘s coast as a result of the fire, it could leak hundreds of tonnes of oil into the ocean, which could prove fatal for nearby marine life.

The ship is said to be carrying 25 tonnes of nitric acid; a product that’s used to manufacture fertilisers and explosives.

Pieces of items from the burning foreign ship X-Press Pearl (PA)PA

Beaches located close to the ship have already seen oil and pollution debris washing up their coastlines. As a result, fishing from Panadura to Negombo has been suspended.


Sri Lankan and Indian navies have been working together to try prevent the ship from sinking, but bad weather has put their mission on hold.

Sri Lanka Navy spokesperson Captain Indika Silva said, as per BBC News, ‘The ship is sinking. Salvers are trying to tow the ship to deep sea before it sinks to minimise the marine pollution but the rear area of the ship has drifted.’

Environmentalist Dr Ajantha Perera said if the ship does sink, it could ‘basically destroy the whole bottom of the sea’ because of the oil, nitric acid and other dangerous items onboard the vessel.

As to how the fire started, it’s thought it was due to a nitric acid leak, according to Sri Lankan officials.


Crew members reportedly became aware of the leak on May 11, but X-Press Shipping, who owns the ship, was denied permission by Qatar and India to leave the ship there before the fire broke out, BBC News reports. The crew members were rescued from the ship last week.

Sri Lanka has since received backlash for allowing the ship to enter its waters, leading to officials in the country to lodge a police complaint against the captain of the ship.

Yesterday, June 1, Sri Lankan police said that they had interviewed the captain and the engineer of the X-Press Pearl for more than 14 hours.


It’s unknown if they have been charged with anything, but a court has issued an order which states that they, as well as the ship’s additional engineer, cannot leave the country.

Featured Image Credit: PA Images/Sri Lanka Air Force

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: News, Fire, Now, Ship, Sri Lanka, World News


BBC News
  1. BBC News

    Fears of environmental disaster as oil-laden ship sinks off Sri Lanka