New Delhi, May 30 (PTI) The fire at merchant vessel X-Press Pearl has been showing increasing number of signs that it is under control on Sunday, stated the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) involved in this firefighting effort for the last six days near the coast of Sri Lankan capital Colombo. The vessel was holding about 325 metric tonnes of fuel in its tanks. Also, X-Press Pearl was loaded with 1,486 containers carrying about 25 tonnes of hazardous nitric acid and other chemicals.
'At present, three ICG ships and four tugs deployed by Sri Lanka are involved in the operation and continuously fighting the fire spraying AFFF (aqueous film forming foams) and sea water using external fire fighting systems,' the ICG's statement noted.
The non-stop joint firefighting efforts have yielded positive results with increasing signs of fire being under control, it stated. 'The smoke emanating from the burning vessel has turned from black to grey/white in colour and the smoke density has also reduced. The fire has been localised to a small area near the aft section of vessel,' it added.
The ICG stated its Dornier aircraft sorties are being undertaken daily from Madurai for aerial assessment of the situation. 'Reports from the ships and aircraft indicate that there has been no oil spill. Further, with the careful and measured execution of firefighting operation, no change has been observed in trim and draught of the vessel indicating that the stability and watertight integrity of the vessel is intact,' it mentioned.
Initially, a fire occurred onboard X-Press Pearl, which is nine nautical miles from the Colombo port, on May 20 and it was brought under control within a day. A major fire ignited on board the vessel again on May 25 morning. PTI DSP KJ