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One Injured, One Missing As Oil Tanker Catches Fire Off Sri Lanka

One person was injured and another went missing after an oil tanker carrying crude oil from Kuwait to India caught fire east of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Navy said on Thursday.

The tanker MT New Diamond, carrying 270,000 metric tons (nearly 1.9 million barrels) of crude oil, was traveling from the port of Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Indian port of Paradip when an explosion of a boiler followed by fire erupted in the main engine room. The Sri Lanka Navy responded immediately to the distress signal of the tanker for relief assistance, while a nearby vessel rescued 19 out of the 23 crew members, the Navy said. One crew member, a Philippine national, is missing, while an engineer sustained injuries and was taken to hospital for treatment.

The MT New Diamond was chartered by Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the biggest refiner and fuel retailer in India, and was fully loaded, according to Refinitiv data reported by Reuters.

The Indian Coast Guard also came to the scene of the incident, and the Indian vessel Shaurya has started to extinguish the fire. Other Indian coast guard and navy vessels are also approaching the area. 

The Indian Coast Guard, in a swift Sea & Air Coordinated operation, immediately diverted its ships Shaurya, Sarang, Samudra Paheredar, as well as Dornier Aircraft, to help with firefighting the blaze on the oil tanker, the Indian Coast Guard said on Twitter.

The Sri Lankan Navy and authorities “are taking steps to mitigate and manage the risk of possible oil spills in future due to this disaster,” the Navy said.

The incident with the fully-loaded oil tanker comes a month after a ship carrying fuel oil and diesel ran aground off the coast of Mauritius in late July, spilling part of the oil in the ocean and causing major environmental damage.  

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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