The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has been, since the evening of 25 May 2021, carrying out joint fire fighting and pollution control efforts along with relevant Sri Lankan authorities including Navy and Coast Guard, to stabilise the situation on the MV Xpress Pearl. The burden of these efforts has been to focus on preventing the spread of fire towards the vessel’s bow and thereby protecting anchor, cable-chain and other associated machinery highly inclement weather. At present, heavy smoke is observed only near accommodation/ Superstructure area in aft portion of the ship and is being tackled. Overall, the MV X Press Pearl is currently assessed as being stable and not having issues with water tight integrity.
2. External fire-fighting using foam and boundary cooling by sea-water along the entire length of vessel from either side is under progress and continuous monitoring of vessel’s draught, list conditions and presence of hazardous and noxious substances overboard is being undertaken. Quantity of combustible material onboard is estimated to be limited. The ICG ships will continue to assess the situation and the decision to board or approach closer to the vessel will be taken after fully dousing the fire and undertaking sufficient boundary cooling.
3. Containers that fell from the vessel were identified and threat assessment for navigation safety have already been carried out and shared with relevant Sri Lankan authorities. Aerial surveillance and assessment by (CGDO) has confirmed no leakage of fuel from vessel so far. CG Dornier will continue to conduct regular aerial assessment of the area by for oil spill.
4. It may be recalled that Indian assets were deployed within hours from receiving the request from the Sri Lanka Navy for assistance on 25 May 2021. While ICG ships Vajra, Vaibhav and one CG Dornier are already part of the joint operation, Samudra Prahari – a specialized pollution response vessel- will reach on 29 May 2021 to augment pollution control efforts. The joint India-Sri Lanka operation involves continuous liaison by the High Commission and ICG Headquarters with relevant stakeholders in Sri Lanka for providing recommendations on fire fighting and pollution control. The Indian side is guided by the Neighborhood First policy and remains committed to deepening cooperation with Sri Lanka in the sphere of disaster management and mitigation on the high seas and relevant coastal waters on basis of mutual respect and goodwill.