COLOMBO (XINHUA) – The Sri Lankan government has said that 176 turtles, four whales, and 20 dolphins had died and washed ashore on Sri Lankan beaches up to July 7 as a result of the burning of the X-Press Pearl container ship in May, local media reported on Saturday (July 10).
Sri Lanka’s Ports and Shipping Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena told parliament on Friday the Government Analyst and Veterinary Research Institute were conducting investigations to ascertain the cause of the marine animals’ death.
Wildlife department officials said the dead marine animals had washed ashore on beaches from the southern to western coast of the country in recent weeks.
The X-Press Pearl container ship flying the flag of Singapore was carrying 1,486 containers with 25 tons of nitric acid and several other chemicals and cosmetics from the port of Hazira, India on May 15.
The vessel sent out a distress call when it was near the Colombo Port on May 20, and caught fire soon after.
Sri Lanka’s Marine Environment Protection Authority said that the burning of the vessel has caused a massive environmental disaster as beaches were damaged by debris that washed ashore.
A criminal probe is presently underway to find out how the fire on board the container ship started.