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MT New Diamond, MV X-Press Pearl disasters: Indian Govt. requests INR 890mn for help rendered

MT New Diamond, MV X-Press Pearl disasters: Indian Govt. requests INR 890mn for help rendered

24 May 2023

Sri Lanka has to pay Indian Rupees (INR) 890 million (mn) to the Government of India for the support it extended when the MT New Diamond and MV X-Press Pearl vessels were ravaged by fire on Sri Lankan waters, the Minister of Justice, Prisons Affairs and Constitutional Reforms, President’s Counsel Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said.

Joining the “360°” political talk show on Television Derana on Monday (22), Dr. Rajapakshe said that India has sought reimbursement in writing from the Sri Lankan Government.

“On our request the Indian Navy joined the Sri Lankan Navy and the Air Force to douse the flames ravaging the New Diamond ship and to minimise the environmental damage. For the contribution India has sought INR 400 million (approximately Rs. 1,400 million). These are not rumours. They have asked for INR 490 million for their contribution to mitigate damage in the X-Press Pearl.”

On 3 September, 2020, the New Diamond was engulfed in flames about 65 kilometres (km) off the Sangamankanda Point on the Eastern coast of Sri Lanka. An explosion of a boiler in the main engine room had led to this, which resulted in the death of a crew member and a major oil spill. The tanker was transporting 270,000 metric tonnes (MTs) of crude oil from the Port of Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Indian Port of Paradip at the time of the incident. It was also reported that 1,700 MTs of diesel required for the use of the tanker were stored onboard.

On 20 May, 2021, Sri Lanka witnessed what is considered as one of the worst marine environmental disasters after the Singapore flagged container ship vessel X-Press Pearl, only three months after being commissioned, caught fire some 16 km off Colombo. At the time of the incident, it was transporting at least 1,500 containers including 25 tonnes of nitric acid, other chemicals and low density polyethylene pellets. The fire that raged for nearly two weeks resulted in a massive spillage of damaged containers, microplastics, plastic pellets, chemicals and other harmful substances into the sea before the wreckage of the vessel sank on 2 June, 2021 while being towed away to deeper waters. It was revealed that the fire had been the result of a reaction of the chemicals being transported on the ship, from which 25 crew members were evacuated safely.

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