Supertanker fire off Sri Lanka under control as navy tows it away

A fire-stricken oil tanker has been pushed away from Sri Lanka’s coast and into deeper waters on Saturday, rescuers said, after successfully containing the blaze during a 36-hour operation.

Sri Lankan navy spokesman Captain Indika de Silva said the 330-metre (1,000-foot) ship is being held some 40km (25 miles) east of Sri Lanka, while firefighting boats spray it with water.

“The fire is under control but not out yet,” de Silva said. “We are keeping the ship in a location that is far enough from the shore in case there is an oil leak so that our shoreline does not get damaged.”

The fire broke out in the engine room of the Panama-registered New Diamond on Thursday morning, and it has spread to the bridge of the ship, which was carrying about two million barrels of oil.

A rescue and salvage effort that also involved the Indian and Russian navies brought the fire under control on Friday, before it could reach the vessel’s cargo area.

There was no immediate danger of the tanker breaking up despite a two-metre (6.6 feet) crack in the hull 10 metres above the water line, the navy said.

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