X-Press Pearl disaster: Around 200 marine animals perished
In the last few days, the carcasses of many sea animals have washed ashore. The Wildlife Department has reported the beaching of animals to 26 different Courts, the Attorney General said.
The Court has directed the Government Analyst to submit an official findings report.
The cargo ship was carrying 1,486 containers of chemicals and cargo when it went up in flames on May 21 near the Colombo Port. The Sri Lankan Navy, Air Force and the Indian Coast Guard jointly doused the fire in an operation that took several days, after which the ship sank. Apart from the 325 metric tonnes of fuel (for its own propulsion) in its tanks, the ship was loaded with 25 tonnes of hazardous nitric acid.
Environmentalists say it was one the worst ecological disasters in the country’s history.
Last week, Sri Lanka made an interim damage claim of US$ 40 million from the owners of the cargo ship, through the Attorney General following a directive by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera noted only 40 percent of the hazardous materials, such as plastic pellets, oils and acid, from the ship had washed ashore.
Marine Environmental Protection Authority Chief Darshani Lahandapura said operations are on to identify the hazardous cargo that fell into the sea. The Indian survey vessel, INS Sarvekshak, has been assisting in the efforts for nearly a week now.
“The Indian ship can only see the containers on the seabed, if they can identify the container numbers then we would be able to determine which cargo they were carrying. If the numbers had been destroyed by fire or any other reason this would be difficult,” Lahandapura told the media.
The UN representative in Sri Lanka last week said the sinking of the container ship has caused significant damage to the planet by releasing hazardous substances into the ecosystem.
A team of oil spill and chemical experts from the UN and the European Union is working with Sri Lankan agencies to assess the impact of the disaster.