10/28/2021, 11.18
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Card. Ranjith slams government inaction over X-Press Pearl disaster

by Melanie Manel Perera

The Archbishop of Colombo visiting with the venerable Buddhist Matara Ananda Sagara Thero at the beach devastated by the May 20 environmental disaster. "Voices should be raised against corrupt companies to demand an international investigation and cleanup."




Colombo (AsiaNews) - "Our fishermen have suffered a great loss because of this container ship. The coast has been destroyed and they have not been able to work for months," denounced the Archbishop of the capital, Card. Malcolm Ranjith, during a visit to the beach of Sarakkuwa, near Kapungoda. 

In May this year, the container ship X-Press Pearl caught fire off the coast near Colombo. After burning for 12 days, the ship sank on June 2, releasing oil and other chemicals into the sea that altered the marine ecosystem. Some politicians have called it the worst ecological disaster in Sri Lankan history.

"I urge the government to file a lawsuit against these companies for destroying our coastline. The government should do this on behalf of the fishing community. This issue cannot be taken lightly," said the archbishop, who was accompanied on his visit yesterday by auxiliary bishop Msgr. J.D. Anthony and religious and priests close to the local fishing community.

"It is our responsibility to protect the resources of our country, there is no need for foreigners to do so," the cardinal continued. "We ask the president, the prime minister and the minister of fisheries for a cleanup of the waters and the coast as soon as possible."

Card. Ranjith concluded: "It is necessary for fishermen to make their voices heard against corrupt insurance companies and against the shipping company that caused the damage in the first place." So far the compensation proposed to the fishermen is so small that it has been refused. 

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