On Friday, the Sri Lankan Navy declared that a container ship heading towards Singapore had caught on fire. This is a one-week follow-up to the incident in which the container ship eventually sank in Colombo waters. The boxship was carrying hazardous chemicals and it took over a month to get submerged.
On June 22, MSC Messina Liberian-flagged left the Port of Colombo and started sailing towards Singapore, according to Indika de Silva (Navy spokesperson). The vessel was outside the island's international maritime borders when it was reported to have caught fire.
The Sri Lankan navy was notified in the early hours of the onboard fire on Friday. The Sri Lankan navy was compelled to react, as the vessel during the initial hours of the fire remained within Sri Lanka’s rescue and search limits.
The current coordinates of the vessel are 483 nm off Kirinda, the island's southernmost point. The malfunction of the ship's engine compartment has been reported as the cause of the fire.
MSC Messina received assistance from a merchant ship that was sailing nearby. "It was unlikely that the Sri Lankan Navy would be asked to launch rescue missions at this point," added the spokesperson.
This is the second containership to report a fire in a matter of a few months in Sri Lankan waters. The incident, which found the Singapore-flagged 'X-Press Pearl' entangled in a fire, had one of the country's worst aftermaths in terms of the environment.
The X-Press Pearl was reported to have 1,486 containers of hazardous chemicals when a fire engulfed the ship. The operation to extinguish the fire took several days, after the joint efforts of the Indian coast guard, the Sri Lankan navy, and the country's Air Force.
5 times more than a dozen turtles and other marine animals, including dolphins and a blue whale lost their lives in that catastrophe. After being washed ashore on the well-known beaches of Sri Lanka, the cadavers were discovered.