Xpress Pearl sinking: Navy ship finds concentration of debris within 3 miles of wreck

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New Delhi, Jul 1 (PTI) Indian naval ship Sarvekshak has found a concentration of debris within three miles of the wreck of merchant vessel Xpress Pearl, which sank off the Colombo coast in Sri Lanka early last month, officials said on Thursday.

Sarvekshak -- which is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment -- arrived from India last Thursday to support Sri Lanka's underwater survey efforts around the gutted cargo vessel to ensure the safety of navigation in the area.

Indian Navy officials said hydrographic survey ship Sarvekshak is undertaking a concurrent survey in three search areas around Xpress Pearl.

Concentration of debris has been found within three square miles of the wreck, they added.

The survey is progressing with the help of survey boats and helicopters in coordination with National Aquatics Resource Research and Development Agency (NARA) and Hydrographic Office, Sri Lanka Navy, the officials said.

The Singapore-flagged cargo ship, which caught fire on May 20, was reportedly carrying 1,486 containers out of which large numbers fell into the sea before the fire was doused after an extensive India-Sri Lanka joint operation as part of Operation Sagar Aaraksha 2. Xpress Pearl sank on June 2.

Many institutions have assessed that the containers that fell off the ship could pose a threat to the livelihood of the fisher community staying along the western coast of Sri Lanka as also to the safety of navigation of marine traffic operating through Colombo port.

The United Nations on June 20 said the cargo vessel has caused 'significant damage to the planet by the release of hazardous substances'.

The world body announced a team of experts to determine the full extent of the disaster and necessary follow-up action.

A team of oil spill and chemical experts from the UN and the European Union is working with Sri Lankan agencies to assess the impact of the disaster. PTI DSP AQS AQS

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