Ship operator X-Press Feeders has made an initial payment to the Sri Lankan government to help compensate those affected by the consequences of the fire and sinking of the X-Press Pearl. Through the vessel owner’s P&I insurers, USD 3.6 million was transferred.
X-Press Feeders says that discussions are ongoing on the payment of further claims and that all legitimate claims will be considered. The company also says it continues to contribute to the cleanup and pollution mitigation efforts. It has flown in additional oil spill response assets on a chartered flight from Malaysia in response to a request from the UN-EU team in Colombo.
At the wreck site, caretaker salvors remain on a 24-hour watch to deal with any debris and report any form of a spill with drones deployed daily to help with the monitoring activities. Representatives of the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd (ITOPF) and Oil Spill Response continue to monitor updates from the scene and are ready to respond immediately, if required.
Crew still awaits repatriation
The ship operator saus its seafarers remain housed at a hotel in Colombo, awaiting permission to travel back to their families. They have now been in lockdown for over six weeks. X-Press Feeders says it is working closely with the Sri Lankan authorities through its local lawyers to arrange for the crew’s repatriation as soon as possible.
Major container ship fire
While waiting at the outer harbour of the Port of Colombo for a berth to carry out scheduled container handlings, a fire broke out on the X-Press Pearl on 20 May. After thirteen days of firefighting, the fire was contained. Due to bad weather and structural damage, however, the vessel’s sinking could not be prevented. The cause of the fire was allegedly a container leaking nitric acid.
The leaking chemicals and cargo from the ship are said to have caused considerable environmental damage. However, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority maintains there has not been an oil spill so far.
The ship now rests on the seabed and remains stable for now. Ship operator X-Press Feeders has said salvage of the wreck will probable have to wait until the Monsoon has passed.
Picture by Sri Lanka Ports Authority.