Sri Lankan Navy divers check for oil leakage

Sri Lankan Navy divers check for oil leakage

The Sri Lanka Navy conducts a diving operation at a ship loaded with chemical and plastic that is sinking off Colombo, hoping to check for signs of an oil spill.

But due to the poor underwater visibility, rough sea condition, and strong current, the results were inconclusive and the Navy has said they will continue their operation tomorrow, after other attempts earlier in the week yielded the same result, also due to the weather conditions.

The ship, carrying 25 tonnes of nitric acid and a huge amount of plastic raw materials, was heading to Colombo from Gujarat, India.

Sri Lankan officials have said an acid leak since May 11 may have sparked the blaze. Ports in Qatar and India had refused to offload the leaking nitric acid, they added.

Police on the island nation launched a criminal investigation, interviewing the vessel's skipper and chief engineer, both Russians, and its chief officer, an Indian, and seizing their passports.

Authorities are bracing for a possible oil spill after the stern submerged. There has been no sign of any leaks so far, they added.

Tonnes of microplastic granules from the ship swamped an 80-kilometre (50-mile) stretch of beach declared off-limits for residents. Fishing in the area was also banned.

Sri Lankan environmentalists on Friday sued the government and the ship's operators for allegedly failing to prevent what they called the "worst marine disaster" in the country's history.