The Criminal Investigations Department of Sri Lanka has detained the captain of the charred MV X-Press Pearl cargo ship that caught fire on the fringes of the Colombo Port on May 20.
According to Xinhua news agency, police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said on Monday that The captain was arrested from a hotel in the capital Colombo, where he and other crew members were being kept, and will appear before a local High Court.
Rohana stated that the Department had previously taken statements from the captain and many other individuals, including the vessel's chief engineer, on the incident.
The X Press Pearl is a Singapore-registered ship that was transporting 1,486 containers containing 25 tonnes of nitric acid and a variety of other chemicals and cosmetics from the Indian port of Hazira on May 15.
Read more about the accident here: MV X-Press Pearl violently engulfed in fire, dark clouds of an oil spill hover
Following the incident, it was determined that one of the containers containing nitric acid was leaking prior to the ship's arrival in Sri Lankan seas. While the X-Press Pearl contacted Qatar's Hamad Port and India's Hazira Port for discharge and loading operations, the leaked container could not be discharged, because the ports lacked the specialization and skills needed to cope with the situation.
Despite firefighting attempts, the fire spread to envelop the entire vessel, and the X-Press Pearl sank while being towed to deeper seas. The stern of the ship is now lying on the bottom at a depth of around 21 meters, while the forward half is partially submerged.
The Marine Environment Protection Authority stated that the burning of the X Press Pearl freighter had resulted in a catastrophic environmental disaster, with debris washing ashore damaging beaches from the south to the west coast.
Sri Lanka's Marine Protection Environment Authority cleaned around 1,000 metric tonnes of waste off the country's beaches over the weekend in the aftermath of the vessel catastrophe, local media reported.
Read more about the environmental disaster: Total loss of MV X-Press Pearl suspected as fire intensifies; Sri Lanka braces for major oil spill
The 1,000 metric tonnes of rubbish gathered has been placed in a yard with a hazardous waste storage licence, officials added.
Sri Lanka's State Minister of Ports and Shipping told a local news outlet that after consulting with the Attorney General and the Justice Minister, a claim for $40 million in damages caused by the X-Press Pearl was lodged.
He stated that this was a preliminary claim and that it would be increased to a much higher amount in the future.