Sri Lanka Minister blames marine life deaths on chemical leak from burnt ship

Colombo: Sri Lanka’s Minister of Wildlife and Forest Conservation, C.B. Rathnayake said that a chemical leak from the burnt MV X-Press Pearl container ship has caused the deaths of several marine animals, including sea turtles, that have washed ashore along the coast line in recent days.

Rathnayake on Wednesday said investigations will continue to determine the exact cause of death of the marine creatures, reports Xinhua news agency.

“A large number of sea creatures in the ocean have died as a result of the fire aboard the X-Press Pearl vessel that was transporting chemicals. Accordingly, investigations were conducted to determine the cause of death and clear signs of acid burns were visible on the dead sea turtles.

“Since we do not have special laboratories to conduct studies in this regard if required, we will seek assistance from Singapore. The reports of the investigations will be made public as soon as possible,” the Minister added.

He said measures will be taken in collaboration with the Sri Lankan Navy to ensure the safety of the marine creatures.

The Ministry’s data showed more than 60 dead sea turtles and other creatures including dolphins were suspected to have died in the aftermath of the X-Press Pearl incident.

They were washed ashore on beaches over the recent weeks.

The X-Press Pearl ship, registered under the flag of Singapore, was carrying 1,486 containers with 25 tonnes of nitric acid and several other chemicals and cosmetics from the port of Hazira, India, on May 15.

The vessel sent out a distress call while sailing close to the Colombo Port on May 20, and soon caught fire.

The Sri Lankan Navy dispatched vessels to bring the fire under control.

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