India assisting Sri Lanka with Merchant vessel fire situation

Sri Lanka has sought help from India to contain the major fire onboard container vessel MV X-Press Pearl off Colombo.

As per the directives of the government of India in response to the request of Sri Lankan authorities, Indian Coast Guard swiftly deployed its assets to provide immediate assistance.

While Indian Coast Guard ship Vaibhav on maritime patrol was diverted immediately to reach the scene of the incident, ICG ship Vajra was despatched from Tuticorin and arrived at the scene in the wee hours of Wednesday.

Presently, both the ships are fighting the intense fire onboard the container vessel using external fire fighting system, braving the odds of rough weather.

ICG ship Samudra Prahari, a specialised Pollution Response (PR) vessel, has also been despatched in PR configuration to augment the firefighting efforts and respond to oil spill, if occurrs.

“ICG Dornier aircraft has undertaken air reconnaissance of the area,” Indian Coast Guard said.

Nil oil spill has been reported so far.

The distressed vessel MV X-Press Pearl was carrying 1,486 containers with nitric acid and other hazardous IMDG code chemicals.

The extreme fire, damage to the containers and prevailing inclement weather has caused the vessel to tilt to starboard, resulting in falling of containers overboard. Concerted joint efforts are in progress by two ICG ships and four tugs of Sri Lankan authorities to douse the fire.

In addition, ICG formations at Kochi, Chennai and Tuticorin are on standby for immediate assistance towards Pollution Response.

Continuous coordination is being maintained with the Sri Lankan Coast Guard and other Sri Lankan authorities for augmenting the overall response operations towards containing the fire onboard MV X-Press Pearl.

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