More dead turtles washed up on Sri Lankan beaches Friday, highlighting the environmental scourge caused by a container ship fire off the country’s coast.
The Singapore-registered MV X-Press Pearl was carrying hundreds of tons of chemicals and plastics when it caught fire last month, before burning for two weeks. Since June 2, its wreckage has been partially submerged off the capital, Colombo.
Wildlife officials said the carcass of an olive ridley turtle – a species threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature – was found in the tourist resort area of Pintara, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Colombo.
Last seen on Beach In Induruwa, just south of Bentara, an official said the number found in the southern tourist resort belt has increased to 15.
“We see a clear link to the ship and the turtle deaths,” a senior wildlife official in the south of the island told AFP, asking not to be named.
He said the disaster occurred at the height of the turtle mating season.
It is not uncommon for some turtles to suffocate and die during Mating seasonBut the deaths this year were “10 to 20 times more than last year,” he said.
Local media reports said that more than 50 turtle Eight dead dolphins have been found all over the island since the ship caught fire on May 20.
Such as shooting Two explosions spread that threw several containers into the Indian Ocean, along with plastic pellets that blanketed nearby beaches.
Anil Jasinji, the country’s top environmental official, on Thursday linked the deaths to the Express Pearl newspaper, but said he was still waiting for the final autopsy reports.
About 1,200 tons of plastic pellets and other debris collected from beaches are being stored in 45 shipping containers, officials said.
Sri Lanka is seeking $40 million in damages from the ship’s operator, X-Press Feeders.
Environmentalists are suing the government and X-Press Feeders for allegedly failing to prevent what they describe as Sri Lanka’s worst marine environmental disaster, while Sri Lankan police have launched a criminal investigation against the ship’s captain, chief engineer and chief officer.
Top photo: Sri Lankan Navy personnel clear the debris that washed up ashore in Colombo.