The distressed oil tanker MT New Diamond which caught fire in the seas off Sri Lanka’s eastern coast on Thursday has been towed 40 nautical miles away from shore and the fire is under control, the Sri Lanka navy said here Saturday.
The oil tanker was heading to the Paradip Port in India carrying 270,000 metric tonnes of crude oil from Kuwait when a fire broke out in its engine room, threatening to cause a massive oil spill in the Indian Ocean.
The navy, in a statement, said that as of Friday evening, three capital ships and three fast attack craft of Sri Lanka navy, two ships belonging to the Sri Lanka coast guard, three ships of Indian Coast Guard, one ship belonging to the Indian Navy, two tugs of Hambantota International Port Group have been engaged in the firefighting efforts.
In addition, two dornier aircraft belonging to the Indian Coast Guard have been stationed at the Mattala Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport in the south for emergency use.
The navy said as of Saturday morning the fire was well under control and the vessel had been taken further away from the eastern shore, in case of a threat of an oil spill.
As of Saturday morning, the navy said there was no threat of an oil leak as efforts were underway to prevent the fire from reaching the cargo area.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in a statement on his official twitter expressed his gratitude to the Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Air Force, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, and the Indian Defence Forces for their joint effort in curbing the fire.
The navy said one Filipino crew member was presumed dead while another had sustained serious injuries and had been taken to an eastern hospital for treatment.
The remaining 21 crew members including the captain and engineer of the vessel had been rescued by the Sri Lanka Navy.