Missing sailor confirmed dead as firefighting effort ends on VLCC off Sri Lanka

The burning superstructure of the very large crude carrier New Diamond on September 4, 2020, one day following a fatal explosion in its engine room while underway off Sri Lanka (Photo: Indian Coast Guard)

The Indian Coast Guard has confirmed that the firefighting response to the incident on the very large crude carrier (VLCC) New Diamond finally ended on Sunday, September 6.

The Panamanian-flagged tanker had caught fire in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Sri Lanka following an explosion in its engine room on Thursday, September 3.

Vessels and helicopters from the Indian Coast Guard, the Russian Navy, the Sri Lankan Navy, and private companies responded to the incident by providing firefighting assistance and rescuing the distressed crew.

The coast guard said at 17:00 UTC on Sunday that the fire on the vessel has finally been doused.

Efforts are now concentrated on salvage and pollution response. However, coast guard officials have assured that no oil spills were detected despite the severe damage suffered by the tanker.

Meanwhile, a Filipino crewmember who was initially reported as missing has now been confirmed dead, a Sri Lankan Navy official told reporters on Friday, September 4.

The same official added that the deceased sailor was killed by the explosion in the engine room while a second Filipino crewman sustained less severe injuries from the blast.

Indian and Sri Lankan officials said that they will continue to monitor the situation in case another blaze ignites on the stricken vessel.

New Diamond was en route from Kuwait to the Indian port of Paradip with over two million barrels of oil when the incident occurred on Thursday.

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