Burned out cargo ship with microplastics sinks

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Wed 2nd Jun, 2021

The Sri Lankan Navy wanted to tow the "X-Press Pearl" into deeper waters. Originally, 25 tons of partly dangerous chemicals were on board. A burned-out cargo ship loaded with microplastics and chemicals is about to sink off Sri Lanka. This began Wednesday morning when the navy tried to pull the ship into deeper waters, a navy spokesman told German Press Agency. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had ordered the shifting of the ship shortly before so that it would not sink right near the country's main port, he said.Hundreds of dead fish, some dead turtles, debris and lots of microplastic granules had been found on the beaches in recent days. The head of the Marine Protection Authority, Dharshani Lahandapura, said she had not seen similar damage in previous years.

The "X-Press Pearl", registered under the Singapore flag, had been burning for a good week and a half until the fire could be completely extinguished on Tuesday, according to the navy. The ship was loaded with 1486 containers with 25 tons of partly dangerous chemicals, including nitric acid and microplastic granules for plastic production as well as cosmetics. The cargo was to be taken from India to Singapore. Then, during a storm, a chemical leaked from a container, which triggered a chemical reaction and led to the fire, a Navy spokesman said. Many at least partially damaged containers were still on the sinking ship, he said.Soldiers and sailors are trying to clear the beaches of the plastic debris. Police are said to be ensuring that the captain and two officers do not leave Sri Lanka because of further investigations.

Fishing is banned on parts of the coast until further notice, affecting more than 6,000 fishermen, according to the fishermen's association. Church representatives are therefore demanding immediate financial support for the affected families from Sri Lanka's government. The fishermen would no longer be able to fish in the contaminated stretch of coast for a long time and would thus have lost their livelihood, the Asian press service Ucanews quoted (Tuesday) from a joint statement by eleven church priests. According to an expert opinion, the sea will need at least 20 years to recover.

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