UN reports ‘significant damage to planet’
The United Nations representative in Sri Lanka has said the sinking of a container ship that caught fire while transporting chemicals off the coast of the capital has caused "significant damage to the planet" by releasing hazardous substances into the ecosystem.
The Singapore-flagged MV X-Press Pearl sank off Colombo on Thursday a month after catching fire, raising concerns about a possible environmental disaster.
"An environmental emergency of this nature causes significant damage to the planet by the release of hazardous substances into the ecosystem," UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Hanaa Singer-Hamdy said in a statement late on Saturday.
Sri Lanka has already submitted an interim claim of $40m to X-Press Feeders – the ship's operating company – to cover part of the cost of fighting the fire, which broke out on May 20 when the vessel was anchored about 18 kilometres northwest of Colombo and waiting to enter the port.
The Sri Lankan navy believes the blaze was caused by its chemical cargo, which included more than 22 tonnes of nitric acid and other chemicals.