CID to probe X-Press Pearl fire | Daily News

CID to probe X-Press Pearl fire

10 officers deployed
Statements recorded from Captain, Chief Engineer
Clean-up operations continue

The investigations into the massive fire on-board the ‘X-Press Pearl’ ship has been entrusted to the CID, Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said.

Initially, the General Manager of Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) had made a complaint at the Colombo Harbour Police on May 23 and accordingly the Colombo Harbour Police initiated an investigation and reported the facts to the Colombo Magistrate’s Court.

Samples had also been sent to the Government Analyst on the directions of the Court. However, on Sunday the investigations were taken over by the CID which has deployed a special team comprising 10 officers, including an Assistant Superintendent of Police and three Chief Inspectors for the probe.

The team is conducting investigations on the instructions of the Director CID and the DIG-CID. The CID also recorded the statement from the Captain and Chief Engineer of the ship yesterday at the hotel in Wellawatte. The CID is also scheduled to record statements from the rest of the crew in due course.

“The extracts of the statements would be sent to the Attorney General for further action, while further investigations are continuing,” the Police Spokesman said.

After the fire, the ship’s containers with chemicals exploded, and many of its containers fell into the sea. It was transporting 1,486 containers containing 25 tons of nitric acid, chemicals used for cosmetics and other chemical substances.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is facing perhaps its worst environmental catastrophe as a result of the debris polluting the beaches. The beaches towards Kalpitiya and towards Kalutara were littered with plastic pellets which had led to many fish and turtles dying after consuming them. In addition, metal parts and other debris from the ill-stricken ship had led to contamination of the sea and beach areas. Fisher folk were also warned not to fish and people are concerned about consuming fish as a result.

Authorities and environmentalists have expressed concern about millions of polyethylene pellets washing up on beaches and threatening fish-breeding sites in the shallow waters.

MEPA Head Dharshani Lahandapura said that this is probably the worst beach pollution in the country’s history.

In an attempt to clean up the affected beach areas, military and Security Forces personnel in hazmat suits have been deployed for clean-up operations.

The Singapore-flagged containership on May 20 reported smoke from the cargo hold while at Colombo anchorage 9.5 Nautical Miles off the Colombo Port.

Rob Hawes, head of marine at U.S.-based claims management firm Crawford & Co., estimates the cargo loss from the fire aboard X-Press Pearl containership between US$ 30 million and US$ 50 million, with insurers facing hull and machinery, liability and cargo insurance claims, S&P Global reported. The London P&I Club has provided the protection and indemnity cover for X-Press Pearl, which caught fire on May 21 near the Sri Lankan Port of Colombo.