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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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STF nabs four suspects with two consignments of diesel being transported illegally



By Prabath Vithana

The police Special Task Force (STF) personnel on Wednesday took into custody a consignment of diesel worth Rs. 8 million while it was being transported in two lorries illegally. One is a lorry used for transporting fish from the Hambantota Fisheries Harbour. The fuel was being transported to Wellawaya and Pelawatta.

The STF also arrested four suspects aged 30 and 45.They are residents of Hambantota.The STF said that although fuel was now available at gas stations freely, there is a demand for diesel among those who used heavy vehicles and agriculture.

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CID tells court CCTV footage from surroundings will give clearer picture of what happened



Burning of President’s private residence

By A.J.A. Abeynayake

The CID, on Wednesday, informed Colombo Magistrate, Thilina Gamage, that the damage to President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s private residence, after it was torched by a mob on July 09, amounted to Rs. 14 million.

Meanwhile, a bullet-proof official vehicle which Wickremesinghe was using as the Prime Minister at the time had suffered damage amounting to Rs. 191 million, the CID said.

The CID said fingerprints of five suspects matched those found inside Wickremesinghe’s residence. They had been sent to the government analyst, the CID said.

The CID said it had checked the mobile phones of the suspects and found footage and voice recordings that revealed important information about the house being set on fire.

The Magistrate ordered the five suspects remanded till 24 August. He also ordered that CCTV footage from two business places and seven houses near Wickremesinghe’s house be handed over to investigators. The CID has told the court that with the help of the CCTV footage, they would be able to better understand what happened on the night of 09 July, when a group of anti-government protesters entered the private residence of Wickremesinghe and set it on fire. Earlier in the day, protesters had occupied Temple Trees, the President’s House and the Presidential Secretariat.

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National organisations meet Prime Minister



A meeting between national organizations and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, was held on Wednesday, at the Prime Minister’s Office.Venerable Medagoda Abhayatissa Thera, Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekara, Dr. Wasantha Bandara, lawyer Kalyananda Thiranagama, professor R.B. Herath, engineer Keerthi Wickramaratne, specialist Dr. Harris Pathirage, lawyer Madumali Alwis, Primal Fernando, Yasas Dharmadasa, Senaratne de Silva and several other scholars, representing national organizations, participated at this event.

Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekara pointed out that “Together with Dinesh Gunawardena, then a MP, we brought the real struggles to life in the past. Today, there are struggles that meet the needs of foreign interests and they are done for money. They cannot be called struggles. Reactionaries, who try to destabilize the country in economic, social, religious and cultural perspectives, are working rapidly, in different ways. In such a situation, on behalf of all the national organizations, we thank you for your commitment to the country by accepting this important position. We believe that you will be able to turn the country in the right direction, based on the mission you have carried forward, on behalf of the nation, for four decades.

“The combination of the President and you becomes a great strength for the country”.

Taking part in the event, Ven. Medagoda Abhayatissa Thera said: It is very important for the country that you have been appointed as the Prime Minister since you have committed yourself to protect the national identity of the country, even in and outside of the Parliament. Our organizations have presented a programme for the all-party government that will be implemented in the future. We hope that you will study it and take it forward. Reactionaries are engaged in a grand operation of discrediting progressive characters who voice the needs of the country.”

Expressing his thoughts, lawyer Kalyananda Thiranagama commented: We reversed some unimaginable laws that were harmful to the country. You were also with us that day, providing a giant strength. No one thought that we would win the case against the Foreign Exchange Act. But we did it that day. We have regained that confidence today. Let’s work with the right decision, together”

Meanwhile, Dr. Wasantha Bandara said “You, to be in the office, as the Prime Minister, is a great strength and a beacon of light for national organizations. You are the only person who can save us if we go into bad situations on this journey. If public trust is directed in the right direction, the struggles will disappear. If they head towards the right path within that programme, we will contribute”.

“You are the only leader who consistently followed a nation-first policy,” Prof. R B Herath said, and assured, “We will support you to implement that policy forward in the correct path”.

Attorney-at-Law Madumali Alwis called for an immediate change in the elections system, which she described as corrupt. “We are aware of your commitment to the principle of electoral reforms. I urge you to use your current exalted position as a weapon for that purpose. The belief in the country, as well as your belief, is that a system of elections that is accountable to the people should be introduced. Furthermore, we call on you to introduce a new income tax formula suitable to our country. Our appeal to you is to lessen the cost of living burden faced by the people,” she said.

Engineer Keerthi Wickramaratne, Yasas Dharmadasa and Primal Fernando also spoke on this occasion.

The Patriotic National Movement, National Scholars Monks Association, 56’ Children Organization, Union of National Organizations, Global Sri Lankan Forum, Professional Engineers Association, Vijayagrahi National Organization, Buddhist- Christian Brotherhood, Patriotic Scholars Association and the Patriotic National Front were among the organizations that participated in the event.

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