Watch: shocking footage of fire onboard containership

A vessel carrying 1,486 containers with 25 tonnes of Nitric Acid, several other chemicals, and cosmetics has been burning for six days. This morning, according to the Sri Lanka Navy, the MV X-Press Pearl suffered an explosion.

Unconfirmed media say eight containers were lost, and the ship is surrounded by offshore tugs, tugs and navy boats while firefighting continues. There is speculation that there’s little salvors can do now, fearing more explosions.

All 25 crew members were evacuated safely out of the X-Press Pearl, says the navy. The crew are believed to be Philippine, Chinese, Indian, and Russian nationals, according to Newsfirst.

The fire has continued over the weekend, despite initially being brought under control, says Loadstar.

The 2,700 teu X-Press Pearl, owned and operated by X-Press Feeders, reported the fire on 19 May while it was waiting for a berth at Colombo.

Firefighting tugs launched by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) and Sri Lanka Navy helped bring the blaze under control, but it continued to flare up. The SLPA says the fire was ‘believed to have been caused by a reaction to chemicals in the containers’.

There is particular concern about a shipment of some 25 tonnes of nitric acid loaded at its previous call, at the Indian port of Hazira.

The SLPA says a team of salvors from Dutch firm Smit have arrived on a specially chartered flight and had boarded the vessel to begin inspections.

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