A fully loaded vessel identified as New Diamond, was on its way to Paradip from Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait when the vessel caught fire. Rescue efforts off the Sri Lankan coast were carried out in the ship which was chartered by the Indian Oil Corp (IOC).
Navy spokesman Captain Indika de Silva said flames had spread to the bridge of the New Diamond and two Russian warships in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota harbor had left to assist in the fire fighting. De Silva also said that an international effort was required and also added that until then there was no damage to the ship’s cargo area.
The ship was ablaze about 20 nautical miles off the east coast of the country close to Colombo according to the Sri Lankan Navy officials. "The Sri Lanka air force has scrambled an observation aircraft and the navy has sent in two ships to help with rescue efforts," Commander Ranjith Rajapaksa of the Sri Lankan navy said.
Sri Lanka's Marine Protection Authority assured that steps will be taken to prevent any possible oil leak from the tanker which is carrying 270,000 tonnes of oil.
The owners of the tanker have agreed to settle the claim of USD 1.8 million. This decision came a week after Sri Lanka's Attorney General Dappula de Livera claimed USD 1.8 million for the costs incurred on dousing the fire New Diamond on September 3. New Diamond was carrying 270,000 metric tonnes of crude oil. A boiler explosion in the engine room of the vessel caused fire off the coast of Sangamankanda in the Ampara district. One casualty was reported, and another person was injured due to the fire.
After great effort, the fire was dozed off by the Sri Lankan Navy with the help of Indian counterparts. The photographs taken by Sri Lanka’s air force showed extensive damage to the tanker’s funnel, and thick black smoke and flames coming from the bridge, that sits just behind the cargo area. The Attorney General has been informed about The New Diamond's owners’ decision of willingness to meet the interim claim.
The police recorded a statement from the captain of the ship which was an order from The Attorney General. Also, the captain of the oil tanker was ordered to appear before the court on September 28 by Colombo chief magistrate and he was charged for committing offenses under the Marine Pollution Environmental Protection Act. The ship is currently in the seas 70 nautical miles east of Batticaloa in the east and 129 kilometers away from the Batticaloa coast.
For conducting operations near the oil tanker, two Sri Lankan Naval ships, one Indian Naval ship, and three Indian coast guard vessels were deployed and also the Sri Lankan Navy informed that five ships of Indian coast guard and one Indian Navy ship were also engaged in fire-fighting.
The vessel, New Diamond, carried twenty-three crew members in total which consisted of eighteen Filipinos and five Greeks. Twenty-two of the 23-member crew had been safely rescued off the tanker of which one was injured, and the injured crew member was taken to Sri Lanka onboard one of the vessels.