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Travel ban imposed on Captain of fire-stricken super tanker

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By A.J.A. Abeynayake

Colombo Chief Magistrate Mohamed Mihar imposed a travel ban on the Captain of the oil tanker ‘MT New Diamond’, Greek national Sterio Ilias yesterday.

The Captain of the fire-stricken oil tanker ‘MT New Diamond’, which caught fire off the East coast received the order when he was produced before the Colombo Magistrate’s Court, yesterday.

The Attorney General requested the Colombo Chief Magistrate to remand the Captain under provisions of the Prevention of Marine Pollution Act of 2008.

During yesterday’s hearing, Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris, appearing on behalf of the Attorney General, requested the court to remand the captain of the vessel, citing concerns that the Greek national might abscond.

The judge put off the decision pertaining to the request till 2pm yesterday.

Later the judge announced the imposition of the travel ban.

On September 17, Colombo Additional Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage issued a notice to the Greek Captain to appear before the court yesterday considering a request made by DSG Dileepa Peiris.

The Attorney General instructed the CID to name the Captain as a suspect involved in committing offences under the Prevention of Marine Pollution Act No. 35 of 2008.

The Panamanian flagged tanker was carrying 270,000 tonnes of crude and 1,700 tonnes of diesel to Paradip port in India from the port of Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait when the fire erupted in the engine room on Sept 03 morning in the deep sea about 38 nautical miles off Sangamankanda Point in Ampara.

One member of the ship’s crew was killed and another seriously injured crew member was rescued by the Sri Lanka Navy. Another three Greek and 16 Philippine crew members of the tanker were rescued by another merchant vessel plying nearby and safely brought ashore by the Navy.

The vessel is currently located in deep seas around 67 nautical miles away from the coast of Batticaloa.

Meanwhile, the owners of the Panamanian Crude Oil Tanker ‘MT New Diamond’ have agreed to fully settle, the compensation claim of government stakeholders amounting to Rs.442 million in costs incurred to douse the flame.

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Majority of 300 luxury vehicles to be released

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… some shipped in without opening LCs, EU wants restrictions abolished

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The majority of the luxury vehicles imported by special permit holders in contravention of the import ban imposed by the government in view of precarious economic situation caused by corona first wave are likely to be released subject to penalties.

Well informed sources said that those vehicles shipped in without even opening LCs would be released. Among the violators were many government servants.

Sources said that vehicles brought in without opening LCs were likely to be confiscated.

“We have categorised over 300 vehicles, including BMWs, Mercedes-Benz and Audis into two groups. Customs are now in the process of evaluating individual cases,” a high ranking state official said.

The government announced a ban on vehicle imports to arrest the depletion of foreign reserves. Sources acknowledged that at the time the vehicles

arrived in Sri Lanka the second corona wave hadn’t erupted. The situation was far worse now and further deteriorating, they said, adding that the Customs were being inundated with requests for releasing vehicles on sympathetic grounds.

Controversy surrounds the failure on the part of the government to strictly implement the import ban in view of the sharp drop in state revenue due to the pandemic.

Recently, the EU demanded that Sri Lanka immediately lift import ban or face the consequences. The EU issued the warning in talks with government representatives. Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena explained the circumstances that compelled the government to impose import restrictions. The EU sought an explanation as to when the ban would be lifted. The Foreign Ministry quoted Foreign Minister Gunawardena as having explained to the EU the challenges Sri Lanka economy was facing amidst the dwindling foreign currency reserve situation due to the significant reduction in remittances and tourism revenue induced by the COVID-19 global pandemic. The minister said that the import restrictions were being reviewed.

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Nearly 74,000 persons under home quarantine

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Close to 74,000 people belonging to 27,974 families had been placed under home quarantine, Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said on Wednesday (25).

He said that the number of cases from the Minuwangoda and Peliyagoda clusters had increased to 17,436 with 458 persons had tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

Two wards of the Kethumathi Maternity Hospital, Panadura were temporarily closed on Wednesday after two pregnant women admitted there tested COVID-19 positive.

The two women are from Atalugama, which has been declared an isolated area. During the last few days close to half of the COVID-19 patients detected in Colombo District are from Atalugama.

The two women have been sent to Neville Fernando Hospital, Malabe. The patients and staff in Wards 3 and 4 at the Kethumathi Maternity Hospital are now under quarantine. Their family members too have been asked to undergone self-quarantine.

The Police had arrested 61 persons who had violated quarantine laws within the 24 hours that ended at 8 am yesterday, Police spokesman, DIG Ajith Rohana said, adding that they had been arrested for not wearing masks or for not maintaining physical distancing. With those altogether 688 persons had been arrested for violating quarantine laws from October 30, he said.

Commissioner General of Prisons Thushara Upuldeniya said that apart from Welikada, the spread of COVID-19 had been controlled at other prisons. COVID-19 cases had been reported from six prisons, he added.

“We are conducting PCR tests and hope that the situation in Welikada too would be brought under control. Twenty four new cases were detected from prisons on November 24 and from October 04, we have identified 708 cases within the prison system.”

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Severity of impact of second wave on economy could be far worse than anticipated – CBSL

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By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatte

The impact of the second wave of COVID-19 could be severer on the economic growth than previously anticipated, Director of Economic Research at the Central Bank Dr. Chandranath Amarasekara said yesterday (26).

Dr. Amarasekera said so responding to a query by The Island at a CBSL media briefing. The top official said that an assessment couldn’t be made yet as the second wave was continuing.

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