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Sri Lankan authorities charge captain of the fire ravaged oil tanker MV New Diamond of having negletected warning of an imminent fire

The authorities of the oil tanker MV New Diamond that went up in flames off Sri Lanka's eastern waters last week seemed to have neglected warnings from the crew on possible fire on board; a Sri Lankan court was told by the island nation's authorities according to media reports.

During the hearing of the case on September 10th, the state lawyers told the Colombo Chief Magistrate that the tanker's authorities seemed to have neglected warnings from the crew on the possibility of fire on board. They had failed to see the activation of the firefighting equipment on board the tanker.

One crew member died, another injured

A Filipino crew member died and another was injured in the mishap. The fire was doused in a joint operation of the Indian and Sri Lankan forces on Sunday last.

But a new fire broke out within hours due to extreme heat and strong winds. After the second fire was brought under control on Wednesday, the tanker was towed away from the site.

According to the Lankan Navy a narrow diesel patch, one km from the ship, was noticed on Monday evening and an Indian Coast Guard aircraft sprayed dispersants to minimise potential damage to the marine environment.

The state authorities sought court's permission to obtain oil samples on board the vessel to carry out tests to verify that the oil leaks visible in the surrounding sea area were those from the tanker.

The oil slick near the ship is about 10 to 30 metre wide and about a nautical mile long.

The court permitted the Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA) personnel to board the oil tanker and directed the authorities to obtain samples from the crude oil stored inside the tanker and the copies of the vessel data records.

The tanker is floating currently 45 nautical miles (83 km) off Sri Lanka's east coast.

Plans to take action against the ship's owner

The MEPA had said it plans to take action against the ship's owner under the country's laws to protect the marine ecosystem.

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