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Greek Owner of Fire-Stricken Ship to Pay $2.3M for Sri Lankan Help

Αssociated Press

FILE- A Sept. 8, 2020 file photo released by Sri Lankan Air Force shows ships fighting fire on the MT New Diamond, about 30 nautical miles off the coast of Sri Lanka. (Sri Lankan Air Force via AP, File)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — The owner of a large oil tanker that caught fire off Sri Lanka’s coast has agreed to pay $2.3 million to the island nation for its help in extinguishing the blaze, an official said Saturday.

MT New Diamond, which was carrying nearly 2 million barrels of crude oil, was damaged by two fires in early September.

Attorney General Dappula de Livera last week submitted an interim claim of $1.8 million to Greece-based Porto Emporios Shipping Inc., the registered owner of the vessel, for services provided by the Sri Lankan navy, air force, ports authority and Marine Environment Protection Authority since the ship caught fire on Sept. 3. On Thursday, he submitted another claim for $500,000 for additional services rendered to the ship.

On Saturday, Nishara Jayaratne, the coordinating officer in the Attorney General’s Department, said the owner had agreed to pay the claim in full.

She said an interim report on environmental damage had also been submitted to the ship’s owner, and that a separate claim for that will be presented after the final report is complete.

The owner’s agreement to pay came nearly a week after a Sri Lankan court ordered the ship’s Greek captain to appear in court on Sept. 28 after the attorney general directed police to name him a suspect in the fire.

Experts have been working to salvage the ship, which remains in Sri Lankan waters.

The tanker was transporting crude oil from the port of Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Indian port of Paradip, where the state-owned Indian Oil Corp. has a refinery.

The initial fire killed one Filipino crew member and injured another, while 21 other crew members escaped uninjured.

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By BHARATHA MALLAWARACHI Associated Press