Sri Lankan firefighters extinguish blaze on container ship

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Firefighters in Sri Lanka on Tuesday extinguished a blaze on a container ship that had been burning for 12 days, as a court imposed a travel ban on the captain.

The fire on the MV X-Press Pearl ravaged the 5-month-old ship, destroyed most of its cargo, and caused severe pollution in the ocean and along a long stretch of the island nation’s famed beaches.

The Sri Lanka Ports Authority said salvage personnel “have finally embarked on MV X-Press Pearl after dousing the fire. Assessments are being carried out.”

The ship was anchored off the capital, Colombo, waiting to enter its port when it caught fire. The navy believes the blaze was caused by chemicals being transported on the Singapore-flagged vessel. It was carrying 1,486 containers, including 25 tons of nitric acid and other chemicals that were loaded at the port of Hazira, India, on May 15.

Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said police have questioned the ship’s captain and an official of the ship’s local agent.

He said a court in Colombo banned the captain, the engineer and the assistant engineer from leaving the country.

The vessel’s 25-member crew was evacuated last week after an explosion. They include Philippine, Chinese, Indian and Russian nationals.

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