One of the crew members of the oil tanker ‘MT New Diamond’ was confirmed dead in an explosion in the main engine room, the Sri Lanka Navy said.

The deceased, a Filipino national, was reported missing following the fire that ignited in the Panama-registered oil tanker yesterday (03). The fire raging on the ship has so far had no effect on the 270,000 metric tons of crude oil stored there and necessary steps are being taken to prevent the fire from spreading to those crude oil storage facilities.

Meanwhile, there is still no risk of the ship leaking oil into the ocean due to the unfortunate turn of events.

However, Sri Lanka Navy, the Sri Lanka Coast Guard, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, and the Marine Environment Protection Authority and other stakeholders are geared up to take necessary steps to mitigate and manage the risk of a possible oil spill in the future due to this disaster

Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Air Force, Sri Lanka Ports Authority together with the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard are currently engaged in a joint effort to control the fire raging in the oil tanker, caused by an explosion of a boiler in the main engine room.

At around 8.30 am yesterday, the oil tanker had been sailing 38 nautical miles off Sangamankanda Point east of Sri Lankan seas, when the unfortunate turn of events took place.

The Navy says an MI17 helicopter of the Air Force had carried out several aerial operations, until the nightfall yesterday, to control the blaze.

A beach craft is meanwhile conducting periodic air surveillance and a Dornier aircraft of the Indian Coast Guard has monitored the disaster situation from the air, the Navy said further.

Further, SLN ships “Sayura”, “Sindurala” and “Ranarisi”, along with 02 Fast Attack Craft have been deployed in this disaster management operation.

The Indian Coast Guard ship “Shaurya” which arrived at the location of the distressed oil tanker last evening, joined hands with SLN's “Sindurala” in carrying out the cooling effect from both sides of the ship in distress.

The mission was also augmented by two tugs, “Rawana” and “Wasamba” at 1.00 am and 3.00 am, respectively after leaving the Hambantota port this morning (04).

At around 2.00 am, the mission was also joined by the ALP “Winger”, another tug made ready by the foreign company that owns the ship in distress, the Navy said.

The Indian Navy Ship (INS) “Sahyadri” subsequently joined the disaster management operation this morning around 2.00 a.m. and two (02) other Indian Coast Guard ships are scheduled to join the operation by this afternoon (04).

The two Russian ships that took part in the disaster relief operation left the scene of action after providing necessary support last evening.

Meanwhile, 21 crew members of the distressed oil tanker including the 19 persons, who were initially retrieved by the MV Helen M were taken aboard SLN ships and have been safely isolated adhering to health guidelines.


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