Colombo: Sri Lankan Navy with assistance from India are battling a major fire on board a huge Panama- registered container carrier off the coast of Colombo.
VLCS MSC DANIELA caught fire while en route from Singapore to Suez in Indian ocean west of Sri Lanka at night Apr 4 or early in the morning Apr 4, vessel changed course and headed for Colombo, apparently seeking assistance. In the afternoon Apr 4 vessel approached Colombo anchorage and started to drift. As of 0300 UTC Apr 5, vessel is drifting in vicinity of Colombo Anchorage, with at least four tugs and patrol ship at her side, engaged in firefighting. Understood containers are on fire, seems like a major fire. MSC DANIELA according to AIS, wasn’t brought to anchor, either because fire cut off forecastle access, or because she’s prohibited to anchor, out of safety considerations.
The fire broke out last night on the merchant ship MV MSC-Daniela, when the 14,000-container carrier was about 120 nautical miles away from Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s Naval spokesman Chaminda Walakuluge said the Navy responded to a distress call by a local agent of the container vessel, which was travelling from Singapore to Egypt.Sri Lanka Navy dispatched two Fast Attack Craft (FAC) P 436 and P 412 to the location assisting Sri Lankan Port Authority tugs, Rawana and Maha Wewa to douse the fire, Walakuluge said.
A Sri Lankan Air Force helicopter has also been deployed to douse the flame.“There are no casualties among the 22-member crew,” Walakuluge said.
Indian Coast Guard Ship ‘Shoor’ which was on overseas deployment at Colombo also joined the fire fighting effort.
“Information was received from High Commission of India, Colombo regarding a request received from the Sri Lankan Navy to render assistance to extinguish fire on board MV MSC Daniella,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.
“The vessel was carrying dangerous cargo and hence utmost caution was exercised in firefighting to ensure safety of the crew and the vessel,” it said.
Meanwhile, the Indian Navy also dispatched two of its ships — INS Ghariyal and INS Darshak — to help douse the fire.