Ships, Copters Fighting Fire as Tanker Drifts near Sri Lanka

September 4, 2020

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Ships, boats and aircraft from Sri Lanka and India were escalating efforts to douse an oil tanker fire burning for a second day Friday as officials warned of potentially huge environment damage on Sri Lanka's coast if the ship leaked or exploded.

The tanker was drifting and could reach the coast of the Indian Ocean island nation within 38 hours, Terney Pradeep, general manager of the Sri Lanka Marine Environment Protection Authority, said on state television. That would be about late Saturday local time.

The fire has not spread into the tanker's oil storage area and no leak was reported, according to Sri Lanka's navy, but the environmental official warned of the potential damage if a leak or explosion occurred.

"The damage could rise further if the ship explodes due to the fire. If that happens, there could be a huge damage," Terney said in the telecasted statement.

The MT New Diamond was about 38 nautical miles (70 kilometers) east of Sri Lanka when the fire started Thursday in an engine room boiler. One crew member was injured in the fire, and another first described as missing was later confirmed to have died in a boiler explosion.

Terney said the ship now is drifting toward the coast at a speed of 0.7 nautical miles per hour. "If an oil spill happens after it reaches near the coast, there could be a huge damage on the beach."

The Sri Lankan navy sent four ships in response to the fire alarm Thursday, and other ships and aircraft from Sri Lanka and India have joined the firefighting efforts. The other 21 crew left the tanker uninjured as the fire burned.

A Sri Lankan air force helicopter was picking up seawater in a bucket then flying back to dump the water on the burning tanker, air force spokesman Group Capt. Dushantha Wijensinghe said. The air force also was flying an observation aircraft to provide feedback to the authorities.

"The fire is still raging there," Sri Lankan navy spokesman Indika Silva said Friday morning, adding it hasn't spread into the oil storage area of the ship and no oil leakage has been reported.

The tanker's 23 crew are 18 Filipinos and five Greeks. The dead and injured crew are both Filipino. 

The dead crew member was initially reported as missing and on Friday, Sri Lanka navy said preliminary information from crew had confirmed that the missing crew member had died "in a boiler explosion." 

The tanker's third engineer was hospitalized with injuries. His condition is returning to stable, Silva said.

The tanker was carrying 270,000 metric tons of crude oil from the port of Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Indian port of Paradip, where the state-owned Indian Oil Corporation has a refinery.


PARIS – During this year's Paris Design & Art Week, Greek artist Konstantin Kakanias unveiled his inaugural furniture collection, as reported by Town & Country (TC) magazine on April 16.

Top Stories


A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.


Indians Vote in the First Phase of the World’s Largest Election as Modi Seeks a Third Term

NEW DELHI (AP) — Millions of Indians began voting Friday in a six-week election that's a referendum on Narendra Modi, the populist prime minister who has championed an assertive brand of Hindu nationalist politics and is seeking a rare third term as the country's leader.

BARCELONA - Stefanos Tsitsipas encountered a significant challenge in his match against Facundo Diaz Acosta during the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell on Friday.

NEW YORK  — A person who was on fire in a park outside the New York courthouse where Donald Trump’s hush money trial is taking place has been rushed away on a stretcher.

NEW YORK — Emergency crews rushed away a person on a stretcher after fire was extinguished outside the Manhattan courthouse where jury selection was taking place Friday in Donald Trump's hush money criminal case.

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Casper Ruud defeated Jordan Thompson in straight sets to earn his season-leading 26th win and secure a spot in the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open on Thursday.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.