Explosion reported aboard burning vessel, 25 crew members rescued

Sri Lanka Navy assists to douse fire onboard MV X-Press pearl

An explosion was reported on board the burning Singapore-flag ship ‘X-PRESS PEARL’ in the seas off Colombo Port.

Eight cargo containers have fallen into the sea and the vessel is reported to be unstable, the Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA) stated.

Sri Lanka Navy has rescued 25 crew members from the cargo ship. Two injured Indian nationals among the rescued have been hospitalised for treatment, according to the Navy.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) has deployed Bell-212 helicopters to drop dry chemical powder on ‘X-Press Pearl’ to douse the fire, SLAF spokesman stated.

A fire erupted in the cargo vessel ‘X-Press Pearl’ carrying Nitric Acid and other chemicals on Thursday afternoon (May 20).

The container ship was in anchorage about 9.5 nautical miles northwest of Colombo harbour at the time of the incident. The vessel had reached the location on May 19 before its entry into the harbour.

The vessel, which is registered under the flag of Singapore, departed with 1486 containers with 25 tons of Nitric Acid, several other chemicals and cosmetics from the port of Hazira, India on May 15.

The distressed container ship was reportedly manned by a crew of 25, who are Philippine, Chinese, Indian and Russian nationals.