Flotilla from Sri Lanka, India try to douse oil tanker fire
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A flotilla from Sri Lanka and India was escalating efforts to douse a fire raging on an oil tanker east of Sri Lanka for a second day Friday.
The fire started Thursday in an engine room boiler on the MT New Diamond, leaving one crew member injured and one missing.
“The fire is still raging there,” Sri Lankan navy spokesman Indika Silva said Friday morning, adding that the fire has not spread into the oil storage area of the ship and no oil leakage has been reported so far.
Photos released by the Sri Lankan air force showed smoke rising from the engine room of the ship but no visible damage or fire in other areas of the vessel.
The Sri Lankan navy sent four ships in response to the alarm it received Thursday, and they picked up 19 crew members who had left the burning tanker on lifeboats, Silva said. As the navy ships tried to put out the fire, the captain and two others abandoned the tanker.
Three ships from Sri Lanka, two ships from India, Indian coast guard aircraft and two Sri Lankan tug boats have joined the firefighting efforts since then.
The tanker's 23 crew are 18 Filipinos and five Greeks. The missing and injured crew are both Filipino. The injured man, identified as the third engineer of the ship, was taken to land and hospitalized.
The tanker was carrying 270,000 metric tons of crude oil from the port of Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Indian port of Paradip.
At the time of the fire, the Panamanian-registered ship was about 38 nautical miles (70 kilometers) east of Sri Lanka.