Lanka escapes another maritime disaster | Sunday Observer
Ill-fated vessel left Colombo Port on Wednesday

Lanka escapes another maritime disaster

27 June, 2021

Another major maritime disaster slipped past Sri Lanka on Friday after a foreign-owned container vessel was caught up in a major fire, hours after it had left the Colombo Port on Wednesday evening.

The Liberian flagged MV Messina packing a weight of 50,852 tons left the Colombo Port and was heading for Singapore when the fire erupted on the vessel, International Transport workers Federation (ITF) Inspector Ranjan Perera said yesterday.

The vessel remains crippled some 450 nautical miles off the country’s East Coast and was taking in water, he said. The vessel has been abandoned and the crew have been evacuated, Perera said. He said the vessel was loaded with 4,743 containers but the nature of the cargo was not known.

The vessel had been commissioned in 1995 and was owned by Eastern Pacific Shipping (Pvt) Ltd.

The multi-national foreign crew had been plucked off the vessel by international rescue craft, he said. There were no Sri Lankan seafarers on board the vessel, Perera said. The Sri Lanka Navy was coordinating rescue efforts through the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Colombo.

“We sent out several alerts to other vessels in the area and one ship was moving towards the distressed vessel,” Navy spokesman Captain Indika de Silva said.

“We have been informed that there was an explosion on board the vessel shortly before the fire erupted and that a crew member was reported missing,” he said. The fire had reportedly erupted in the vessel’s engine room, Captain de Silva said.

He said the ship was currently drifting in international waters between Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

The incident comes barely a month after the container ship the MV X-press Pearl was destroyed in a major fire close to the Colombo harbour in late May triggering-off a major environmental marine disaster.

In September last year a major fire erupted on a gigantic oil tanker in the country’s territorial waters off the Eastern Coast spewing tons of crude oil into the sea.