A huge explosion on a container ship caused a huge fire just off the coast of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. Container ships carry a lot of different materials, chemicals, and other things. Some of these can be highly flammable and explosive so it seems some mishandling may have caused the explosion.
The container in question is called the MV X-Press Pearl. It was anchored about 9.5 nautical miles or 18km northwest of the Colombo coast. The vessel was waiting to enter the city’s port when the fire suddenly erupted and the explosion happened. The fire and explosion prompted the 25 crew members to immediately evacuate. The explosion caused many of the containers the boat was carrying to fall into the ocean.
Many videos were posted showing the fire and nearby tug boats trying their best to extinguish it. The Sri Lankan Navy investigated the matter and concluded that the explosion was caused by the chemicals on board. The inventory of the container ship included around 25 tons of nitric acid. The ship was carrying a total of 1486 containers on board.
The ship was en route from the Indian port of Hazira to Singapore via the port. Navy spokesman Indika de Silva said crew members and salvage and firefighting experts evacuated the ship after the explosion. You can watch a video showing the ship in the tweet below.
Reports say that fire tugboats were already trying to extinguish the fire when the explosion ensued. Luckily a Sri Lankan Navy ship was anchored nearby to assist. The crew members included people from the Philippines, China, India, and Russia. According to Indika Silva, “The fire has been spreading fast since morning and has spread towards the control room, while some 20 of the containers have fallen overboard”.
The fire has caused many containers to fall into the sea. The Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) has launched an investigation into marine pollution that may have happened. According to MEPA chair Dharshani Lahandapura, “We already have reports that some of the fuel from the engine room has leaked from the ship into the sea. We are in the process of carrying out investigations to determine the extent of pollution”.
Sri Lanka’s shipping minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena that equipment to help contain the fire is en route to the container ship via a special Dutch flight.
I guess container ships are having it especially hard this year.