07/27/2021, 15.58
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Animals from 275 marine species dying as a result of the X-Press Pearl disaster

by Melani Manel Perera

After two months, the burning of the large container ship off the Sri Lankan coast near Colombo continues to impact the area. Fishermen complain that the shipwreck has not been anchored far off, in deep waters, but is resting in shallow waters, in a fishing ground, near the coast.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Scores of animals from 275 species have died over the past few weeks along the coast of Sri Lanka, this according to environmentalist Sajeewa Chamikara.

This is the result of the chemical and oil spill caused by the burning and sinking of the X Press Pearl container ship off the coast near the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo.

Two months after the disaster, its effects continue to impact the local marine ecosystem.

“There are eight species of turtles in the world,” Chamikara explained. “Five of them can be found in abundance near the Tambagala area, where the disaster occurred.”

“When the dead animals were examined, they found that they had died from exposure to chemicals and oil from the ship,” he added.

Turtles are reptiles and the rotting carcasses of dead turtles show signs of acid burns.

Meanwhile, protests by fishermen continue. The latter claim that the shipwreck has not been secured and still represents a threat.

“The Port Authority has deceived the entire world, not only the country, into believing that the X-Press Pearl has been anchored in deep waters,” said M Vijendran, general secretary of the United Fisheries and Fisheries Workers Union.

“They towed the ship nine kilometres north of the coast from the Port of Colombo, in shallow waters, [. . .] in an area where we have traditionally fished for hundreds of years.”

As a result, the local “fishing bank is today a ‘no-go zone’” with fuel oil and chemicals flowing everywhere. “Our fishing nets,” he bemoaned, have “layers of oil.”

“We have seen many ships sink in the sea,” Vijendran explained, “but this ship is special because it sank with 1,486 containers. Therefore, we call for the immediate removal of this huge burden from our shoulders.”

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