Translated By Akitha Wijayasinghe
Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris informed the Court that the MT New Diamond, which caught fire on 3rd September, is equipped with a modern emergency fire response & communication system but the ship’s crew have not taken actions to activate it.
He said it appears that they have made no attempt to extinguish the fire or inform the relevant authorities and when the Sri Lanka Navy got there, they were preparing to abandon the ship using lifeboats.
Although their modern lifeboats were fitted with the latest communication systems, they have not activated them to inform them of the fire, Mr. Dileepa said.
He mentioned these facts to the Colombo Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne.
Even though the Marine Environment Protection Authority holds the full power to investigate the incident, the authority was given to the Criminal Investigation Department for further investigations.
Sri Lanka Marine Environment Protection Authority granted the authority to the CID to carry out a criminal investigation on the damage done to the country under Maritime Protection Act No, 35 of 2008.
Investigations will be done following the 25,26,38,53 clauses of the mentioned act.A ccordingly, DHP Roshan Marasinghe of the CID and a team was assigned to this task.
On behalf of the Attorney General, Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris and Marine Affairs Specialist, Solicitor General Vikum DE. Abrew presented the facts in front of the Colombo Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne.
“The had not taken any precautions to inform about the fire to the relevant authorities. Even the Navy got the message of this accident from a passing by merchant ship. When the Navy got there, the ship’s crew was prepared to abandon the ships, boarded on the lifeboats which also are mounted with the latest communication equipment. A thorough attention should be paid to this as they have not tried to inform even after boarding the lifeboats using the equipment there. The fire is under control now, but the crude oil is being leaked to the surrounding ocean. Already a considerable amount has been leaked and a layer of oil is floating on the surface” Mr. Dileepa Peiris said reporting to the Court.
Answering the request made by the CID to get statements from the ship’s crew who are being quarantined in a hotel in Galle, she said that even though they are foreigners, there’s no restrictions to get statements from them as they are not in the ship but within the country.
The CID suggested that it will be better to undertake the procedures through the ship’s company as they are foreigners and a ship crew. Considering that, the Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne ordered the local agent of the New Shipping Limited, GAC Shipping Private Limited company to cooperate with the officers of the Marine Environment Protection Authority and provide necessary support.