The fire on board oil tanker MT New Diamond, off the east coast of Sri Lanka, was “successfully contained” with India’s help, the Sri Lankan Navy said on Saturday. The Indian Coast Guard and the Indian Navy assisted Sri Lankan authorities in dousing the flames on the tanker off the coast of Sangaman Kanda in Ampara.
The New Diamond, a very large crude carrier chartered by the Indian Oil Corporation, had sailed from the port of Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait and was heading towards the port of Paradeep in India. The Panamanian-registered vessel, which was carrying 2,70,000 tonnes of oil, caught fire on Thursday.
By Saturday morning, several agencies had together contained the fire and tugged it about 40 nautical miles into the deep sea and away from land. Authorities added that there was no risk of an oil spill from the fully loaded supertanker.
The agencies saved 22 crew members from the vessel, while one person – a Filipino sailor – died in a boiler explosion of the tanker, PTI reported. The other crew members included 17 Filipinos and five Greeks.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Saturday thanked all the agencies for their efforts in controlling the fire and for preventing a disaster in the Indian Ocean.
“The Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Air Force, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard are working together in this coordinated disaster mitigation operation,” a statement by the Sri Lankan Navy said. “The disaster relief operation was joined by Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Sarang, ICGS Sujay, TTT One – a tug equipped with firefighting equipment and professional firefighters, and 02 Dornier aircraft of Indian Coast Guard.”
“Fire extinguishing efforts are underway throughout the whole day [Saturday] on the location,” the release added. “There is a risk of occasional fires due to deep sea winds and such unexpected fires are being controlled by tugs and Indian Coast Guard ships deployed on the location. Helicopters are also used for these firefighting efforts.”
It added: “The continuous cooling effect during the disaster relief operation has controlled the fire-spread and approaching of the flames to the crude oil store of MT New Diamond. As a result, there is no risk of an oil spill so far.”