X-PRESS Feeders has made an initial payment of US$3.6 million after the X-Press Pearl caught fire and sank, creating an environmental catastrophe near Colombo Port.

X-Press Feeders is the ship’s operator, and the payment was made through the vessel owner’s P&I insurer.

The US$3.6 million is to help compensate those affected by the consequences of the fire sinking of the vessel.

X-Press Feeders said discussions are ongoing on the payment of further claims and all legitimate claims will be considered.

“We continue to contribute to the clean-up and pollution mitigation efforts, having flown in additional oil spill response assets on a chartered flight from Malaysia in response to a request from the UN-EU team in Colombo,” the company said in a recent statement.

“At the wreck site, caretaker salvors remain on a 24-hour watch to deal with any debris and report any form of a spill with drones deployed daily to help with the monitoring activities. Representatives of ITOPF and Oil Spill Response continue to monitor updates from the scene and are ready to respond immediately, if required.”

The company said the seafarers from the ship remain housed in a hotel in Colombo, awaiting permission to be repatriated.

“Having endured the trauma and stress of the fire on board and an evacuation that caused injuries to their ranks, they have now been in lockdown for over six weeks,” the company said.

“We are working closely with SL authorities through our local lawyers with regard to crew’s repatriation as soon as possible.”

A fire broke out on the ship on 20 May. Until 25 May the fire was largely under control, but on that day there was reportedly an explosion when the fire spread, eventually causing the ship to sink.