Sri Lanka says fire on burning oil tanker completely doused

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COLOMBO, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Sri Lanka Navy on Monday said that a fire onboard the MT New Diamond oil tanker which caught fire in the seas off Sri Lanka on Thursday had been completely doused.

The vessel had been carrying 270,000 metric tonnes of crude oil and was heading to the Paradip Port in India from Kuwait when a fire broke out in its engine room, threatening to cause a massive oil spill in the Indian Ocean.

The navy said in a statement that following intense fire fighting efforts, the fire was doused by Sunday evening, nearly 79 hours after the distress was reported.

However, the navy said although the fire had now been completely doused, there was a possibility of a recurrence due to the high temperature inside the ship and environmental influences.

"Therefore, Sri Lanka Navy is on high alert and is ready for any emergency," the navy said.

"The successful management of this disaster, which also received special attention worldwide, paved the way to avert a major maritime catastrophe that could have occurred, had it not been mitigated in a short period of time. Meanwhile, the Dry Chemical Powder (DCP) sacks tested by the Sri Lanka Air Force delivered successful results to smother the raging flames onboard," the navy added.

The oil vessel is presently being held 40 nautical miles away from Sri Lanka's eastern coast.

On Sunday, a 10-member team of experts from Britain and the Netherlands, including salvage operations experts, assessors and a legal adviser arrived in Sri Lanka to assess the damage caused to the ship.

SMIT International Singapore, appointed by New Shipping Limited, the owners of the vessel, is also sending equipment and experts in crude oil disaster management to MT New Diamond to start the salvage operation, the Sri Lanka Navy said.

The Sri Lanka Navy said it will continue to provide assistance to the distressed ship until it leaves Sri Lanka's Maritime Search and Rescue Region. Enditem

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