Burning oil tanker leaks diesel off Sri Lanka

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Burning oil tanker leaks diesel off Sri Lanka

COLOMBO: A burning oil tanker began leaking diesel off Sri Lanka’s coast, naval officials said on Tuesday, fuelling fears of a major environmental disaster.

The Panama-flagged New Diamond, carrying 270,000 tonnes of crude oil and another 1,700 of diesel fuel, has been burning since Thursday.

A diesel oil slick was observed near the crippled vessel some 55 kilometres (34 miles) off the country’s eastern coast in the Indian Ocean, the navy said, without specifying the size of the spill.

It said an Indian Coast Guard aircraft was deployed to spray dispersants on the leak to minimise the environmental damage.

The ship reported a fire while passing the country’s east coast on Thursday after a boiler room explosion killed a Filipino crew member.

India and Sri Lanka have launched a major operation to battle the flames and prevent an environmental disaster in the Indian Ocean.

The New Diamond is much larger than the Japanese bulk carrier MV Wakashio, which crashed into a reef in Mauritius in July, leaking more than 1,000 tonnes of oil into the island nation’s pristine waters.