Sri Lanka says has 'better control' over new fire in oil tanker

Fresh fire hits stricken oil supertanker off Sri Lanka
A Sri Lankan Navy boat sprays water on the New Diamond, a very large crude carrier (VLCC) chartered by Indian Oil Corp (IOC), that was carrying the equivalent of about 2 million barrels of oil, after a fire broke out off east coast of Sri Lanka September 6, 2020. Sri Lankan Airforce media/Handout via Reuters
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Colombo: Sri Lanka has "better control" over a fresh fire on a loaded supertanker off the island nation and is looking for any signs of potential oil leaks from the ship.

A fire first broke out last Thursday in the engine room of the very large crude carrier New Diamond and spread to the bridge of the vessel, which was chartered by Indian Oil Corp for importing 2 million barrels of oil from Kuwait. That blaze was doused on Sunday.

However, new flames erupted on Monday. The re-ignition of the fire occurred on the "right side of the vessel near the funnel at the rear," and is not near the tanks carrying crude oil, Navy spokesman Captain Indika de Silva said.

Fresh fire hits stricken oil supertanker off Sri Lanka
A Sri Lankan Navy boat sprays water on the New Diamond, a very large crude carrier (VLCC) chartered by Indian Oil Corp (IOC), after a fire broke out off east coast of Sri Lanka September 6, 2020. Sri Lankan Airforce media/Handout via Reuters

De Silva said that the fire was still burning but the fire fighting team has better control of the blaze.

"All members of the salvage team have arrived at the scene as more boundary cooling efforts are being done," he said, adding "additional assets, salvage personnel and fire fighting equipment is on the way."

Sri Lanka has deployed scientists and experts from its Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) to assess the environmental damage caused by the fire.

One team will examine the ocean area where the burning ship is located and another is examining the coastal areas in the island's eastern seaboard for signs of pollution, said Jagath Gunesekara, deputy General Manager of MEPA.

The New Diamond is about 30 nautical miles, or about 56 km (35 miles), east of Sangaman point, Sri Lanka's easternmost point.

Gunesekara said the experts will assess if the oil leaked from vessel into the sea or damage the beaches and marine life.

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