A fire on the Panama-flagged tanker New Diamond off the coast of Sri Lanka has been brought under control easing concerns abut a massive oil slick in the Indian Ocean,
The Indian coastguard and the Sri Lankan navy said that the 330-meter-long tanker with 270,000 tons of crude oil and 1,700 tons of diesel on board, had been towed, about 60 km off the coast "No oil leak was observed," the Indian Coast Guard said.
On Friday night, the Coast Guard indicated that the flames were "under control, but the vessel continued to eject thick smoke.
The tanker had drifted 25 kilometers towards the coast of Sri Lanka on Friday.
The New Diamond issued a call for help Thursday after an explosion in an engine room. One crew member was killed from the crew died and the remaining 22 were evacuated including the severely burned Third officer
"It will still take five days before the fire is completely extinguished," said Sri Lankan Vice Admiral YN Jayartne, who coordinates the emergency teams
The admiral ruled out any imminent danger after Sri Lankan coastguards pointed to a two-meter fissure in the tanker's hull, ten meters above the waterline.
The metal gave, according to him, by the intense heat emanating from the ship's diesel reserve when the fire spread from the engine room, without reaching the oil load.
The Maldives islands, located about 1,000 kilometers southwest of Sri Lanka, expressed concern about an eventual oil spill, which could cause great damage to the environment.
This archipelago of 1,119 coral islands depends on fishing and tourism.
The third officer is hospitalized in Kalmunai, 360 kilometers east of Colombo.
The tanker had sailed from Kuwait bound for Paradip (India). It is thirty meters longer than Panama flagged Japanese vessel MV Wakashio, which sank in late July on a reef in the southeast of Mauritius.
Three weeks later, the ship split in two, after a race against time to extract the fuel it contained. Meanwhile, the MV Wakashio dumped more than a thousand tons of fuel that littered the coast, in protected areas of mangroves and endangered species, and the crystalline waters that are a tourist attraction.
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