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Govt.: Stricken vessel initially hid from SLPA acid leak onboard

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The MV X-PRESS PEARL had not informed Sri Lankan authorities that there was an acid leak on board, before entering Sri Lankan waters, State Minister Dr. Nalaka Godahewa told the media yesterday.

MV X-PRESS PEARL reached Colombo at around midnight on the 19th of May and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority was informed of the need to offload a container only after 10 hours, Dr. Godahewa said.

“This was communicated via email to SLPA,” the State Minister said. This was sent after it was allowed to enter the CICT terminal on the 20 may and SLPA was told of smoke on board around 12 hours after it anchored outside the Colombo Harbour.

Those on board took another two hours to tell SLPA that it needed immediate assistance from Sri Lanka to contain the fire, Dr. Godahewa said.

Earlier on Friday (28), X-PRESS FEEDERS the owners of the X-PRESS PEARL released an incident overview statement. Given below is the Incident Overview in full: “On May 20, 2021, the Singapore-flagged Container Ship, ‘X-Press Pearl’ reported smoke from the cargo hold while at Colombo anchorage, Sri Lanka.

“Emergency procedures were initiated, and CO2 released in the cargo hold. Port control and the local authority were informed, and Sri Lankan navy assets along with firefighting teams were placed on standby.

“On May 21, the vessel reported fire on deck. Firefighting tugs were deployed by the port authority and a helicopter providing support to help fight the fire. The ship’s crew assisted with boundary cooling of the area.

“The Harbour Master and Sri Lankan Navy were on standby to assist in case of evacuation. Fire and chemical experts were contacted by the vessel operators, and Smit Salvage was appointed as Salvors.

On May 22, the sound of an explosion was heard in cargo hold #2.

“Tugs continued the firefighting operation with Posh Teal, Posh Hardy, Megha, Hercules, Mahawewa deployed.

“12 crew members disembarked from the vessel on May 23 to make way for a 12-person firefighting team. The firefighting team continued the operation in conjunction with water spraying tugs on site.

By May 24, the fire had intensified and was spreading toward the aft of the vessel.

“A further and louder explosion was heard on May 25, and as a prudent measure, it was decided to evacuate all 13 crew and the firefighting team of 12.

“The crew and firefighting team were transferred to a quarantine facility ashore. Unfortunately, two crew members suffered leg injuries during evacuation and were taken to the hospital for attention. All were reported to be in stable condition.

“Firefighting tugs were operating on-site throughout May 26, with the assistance of Sri Lankan Navy helicopters and vessels and two Indian Coast Guard vessels.

“On May 27, efforts to extinguish the fire on board were ongoing with firefighting tugs, the Sri Lankan Navy, and an Indian coastguard remaining on scene.

“All efforts are being taken to save the vessel and cargo and protect the marine environment, and it appears that the onboard fire has diminished somewhat.”



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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman

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Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand

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At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night

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President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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