INTERNATIONAL Maritime Organization secretary-general Kitack Lim said the IMO is looking to assist local and international authorities in dealing with the fallout from the X-Press Pearl incident. 

The 2756-TEU containership X-Press Pearl caught fire on 20 May near the Port of Colombo. The ship burned for weeks and partially sank after salvors attempted to tow it to deeper water. The environmental impact has yet to be fully assessed, but is without a doubt severe. 

Mr Lim said the IMO is liaising with its UN partners (UNEP and OCHA) and with the South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP), the regional organization for South Asia, with regards to possible assistance. 

He said IMO is also in communication with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Environment (MEPA) for any specific technical assistance that IMO may provide.  

“We are closely monitoring the situation as it evolves, including reports of chemical pollution, debris coming ashore in the form of plastic pellets, and the potential for oil pollution,” he said. 

“I express my deep concern to all impacted by the incident involving the container vessel X-Press Pearl, which caught fire whilst at anchor near Colombo, Sri Lanka in May. 

“I wholeheartedly appreciate the efforts of the Sri Lankan and Indian authorities, for their successful rescue of the crew, bringing them to safety. I also thank the salvors for their efforts.” 

“I commend the Sri Lankan and Indian authorities, including the Department of Fisheries, the Marine Environment Protection Authority, the Navy, and the Coast Guard, who are responding to the incident at sea and onshore,” Mr Lim said. 

“I look forward to receiving the investigation report into this incident in due course.”