In these hours the Colombo government has decided to ban fishing 50 miles from the coast. The crew of 25 sailors and technicians were evacuated in time, but despite the “battle” of firefighters and coast guards who have put out the flames for days, the cargo (MV X-Press Pearl, Singapore-registered freighter) did not hold up and sank anyway: now they fear not only acid leaks but also hundreds of tons of fuel, a cocktail of poisons that are extremely harmful to the ecosystem.
The Sri Lankan Fisheries Minister has triggered emergency measures to protect the Negombo lagoon, hoping to save undamaged marine life. “This is a fatal blow to our industry,” said the leader of the region’s fishermen’s unions, Joshua Anthony. “We can no longer fish, which means we can no longer earn a living.” There are 5,600 fishing boats and hundreds of soldiers busy cleaning up the coast, but it seems impossible to avert this terrible disaster.