Sri Lanka likely to witness Acid Rain due to burning cargo ship off the coast of Colombo

The island nation of Sri Lanka has been warned by its Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) of possible acid rains as a result of the burning of the X-Press Pearl container ship in the waters off the Colombo Harbour following an explosion on Tuesday.

As per the reports by Xinhua news agency, Dharshani Lahandapura, Chairperson of the MEPA told local news on Friday that nitrogen oxide gas emitted into the atmosphere will mix with water particles in the upper atmosphere to produce nitric acid for the acid rain.

The MEPA head said informed that the air currents are likely to move from the coastal areas into the country, and possibly cause acid rains in the surrounding areas.

Lahandapura urged the people to be vigilant to avoid exposures to rain directly and cover metal structures or vehicles outdoors.

AS reported on Friday, The Sri Lankan Navy said that it has been putting constant efforts to put out the flames onboard the Singapore-flagged ship which caught fire in waters off the Colombo port on May 20 and was threatening to cause an environmental disaster.

Further, the Navy added that the ship is in danger of sinking and efforts are underway to prevent it. However, no signs of an oil spill have been seen, it added.

The MEPA foresees and warns of a severe environmental disaster. It has been conducting investigations to assess the impact of the burning vessel.

“We are trying our best to extinguish the fire as it broke out again due to the continuous reaction of the chemical materials in the containers and adverse weather,” said Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Minister of Ports and Shipping, in a statement on Tuesday.

The X-Press Pearl was carrying 1,486 containers with 25 tonnes 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 while being close to the Colombo Port on May 20, and soon caught fire. The Sri Lanka Navy said it had rescued 25 crew members from the cargo ship.

Two injured Indian nationals among the rescued had been hospitalised for treatment, and one of them had tested positive for Covid-19, according to the health officials.

The distressed container ship had crew members who are Philippine, Chinese, Indian and Russian nationals.

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