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Expertise on the way to fight fire aboard super tanker carrying crude oil off Ampara coast



By Ifham Nizam

The Indian Coast Guard, along with the ship owners from Kuwait are said to be bringing expertise to control the fire on a ship carrying crude oil off the Ampara coast.

Sri Lanka Navy, Disaster Management Centre, National Aquatic Resources Agency and others were tackling the situation at present. The ship was proceeding to India from Kuwait.

Two casualties have been reported so far from the fire, with one being trapped in the engine room where the fire reportedly erupted in the vessel 38 nautical miles off Sangamankanda, Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) said.

MEPA General Manager Dr. Terney Pradeep Kumara said that there was no news about the person trapped in the engine room.

He told The Island all precautionary measures had been taken to prevent a possible oil leak from the vessel.

The vessel was carrying 270,000 metric tonnes of crude oil and it also contained some 1,700 tonnes of diesel, he said.

“Nineteen crew members have been evacuated from the ship, while the Captain, the first and the second officers are still on board,” he added.

The Sri Lankan Navy had deployed three of its vessels while the Air Force had deployed a beach craft to assist the ship, he said

The sudden fire broke out on Wednesday afternoon.

The vessel is a Panama-registered ship ‘MT New Diamond’, according to the Navy Media Spokesperson.

The fire had not spread to the area where the main oil storage tanks were situated, he said.

The vessel was manned by a crew of 23, according to Navy spokesperson Captain Indika de Silva

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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’



By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners



By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered



A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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