Connect with us

Life style

Wrecked by explosion



Jan.1931 sinking off Beruwala coast

The recent fire on the large oil tanker MT New Diamond, carrying crude oil when she was drifting about 20 nautical miles from our Eastern coast made international headlines. As the fires on the Japan-manufactured vessel, owned by a Greek shipping company, are doused by Sri Lankan authorities, Sunday Island revisits the ill-fated MV Tricolor laden with a cargo of dangerous chemicals which sank near Beruwala nearly 90 years ago, presumably making it the second deepest known shipwreck found in our waters.

by Randima Attygalle

By noon on January 5, 1931, the Norwegian owned MV Tricolor, a diesel-powered, 135-metre long, general cargo ship departed from the Colombo Port. The master of the ship was the 37-year-old Captain Arthur Johan Wold. The vessel is said to have carried a general cargo of over 825 tons including 48 tons that had come in from Hong Kong, Kobe, Yokohama and Moji which had just been loaded that morning. A significant amount of dangerous chemicals had also been in it.

The Tricolor, as the Tech Diving Expert and underwater explorer, Dharshana Jayawardena documents in his book, Ghosts of the Deep: Diving the Shipwrecks of Sri Lanka ‘was capable of 13.5 knots per hour. After the port boundary was cleared, the captain ordered full ahead. Three hours later and 65 km away from Colombo, the vessel arrived exactly atop its last resting place to be. The time was 3.10 pm that afternoon.’ As the writer goes on to record: “suddenly there were loud explosions and the ship shuddered violently. The explosions were so loud that, the crew of the French Steamer SS Porthos, which was a few kilometres away, actually heard it clearly and also saw the massive plume of smoke billowing out of the Tricolor immediately after the explosion.”

Wasting no time, the Captain of Porthos changed the course and headed towards the Tricolor to rescue the crew. Although the French vessel could rescue 31 crew members and all ten passengers, five crew members lost their lives including the 37-year-old Norwegian Captain of the ship Arthur Wold. The Captain of Porthos later recorded that Tricolor had sunk within five minutes after the explosion. The sinking was reported in the Norwegian press the following day. “As announced in a part of Norwegian Post about notice from Colombo, Ceylon that Oslo steamer Tricolor was sunk by an explosion. At this point, the information about the accident is quite sparse. According to telegraphic messages from the shipping company Wilh.Wilhelmsen, the explosion occurred shortly after Tricolor left Colombo.’

Although a substantial amount of dangerous chemicals had also been in the vessel, there are no records confirming the type of chemicals, says Jayawardena who has dived to the doomed Norwegian vessel five more times since his first dive in 2009. He further says that although chemicals are assumed to have contributed to the explosion on Tricolor, the exact cause still remains a mystery. Lying 65m deep, Tricolor is the second deepest known shipwreck found in our waters. It takes a ‘technically precise diver’ to explore the wreck and it lies beyond what is called ‘recreational diving limit’ as Jayawardena explains.

Like the MV Tricolor, the MT New Diamond, is a ship in peril. On a daily basis, all over the globe, thousands of ships are plying rough seas, carrying hazardous cargo, be it explosive chemicals (like the Tricolor), or crude oil (like the New Diamond) or highly dangerous explosives that can lead to catastrophic explosions similar to the one that happened recently in Beirut. “When a calamity of this nature happens, it is only recently that, the world has come to focus more on the environment aspect and the damage to the oceans that can come from marine traffic transporting hazardous cargo; earlier it was more focused on the human drama that surrounds a shipwreck and environmental pollution was never much of a concern in the days bygone. At the least this is a positive trend and a change of mindset. But clearly more attention is needed to take measures that can help disasters such as the MT New Diamond,” reflects Jayawardena.

When the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Alaska in 1989, 37000 metric tons of crude oil decimated the local marine environment and that damage took decades to recover if at all. The MT New Diamond is a much larger ship, with a length of 330m as opposed to the length of Exxon Valdez which was 301m in length. “Imagine the impact to the environment if the MT New Diamond ruptures and empties its crude oil? Depending on the currents, the whole of the southern east coast and south east coast, including the shores of the Yala National park could be at risk,” says the explorer.

In May, 2013, an email from the Norwegian Olav Anders Rasting to Jayawardena, left him astounded. “In it, Rasting claimed to be the great-grandson of Arthur Wold, the captain of the doomed Tricolor! He had come across the website I founded ( and was anxious to know if I had any information to offer about the ship steered by his great grand-father,” recalls Jayawardena. Rasting’s father Pal Arthur Rasting’s (grandson of Captain Arthur Wold) search for any clue to the wreck had driven a blank, says Jayawardena. Captain Arthur Wold had left behind a wife and little twin children- Per Wold and his twin sister Karin Wold. Years later, Karin would name her son Pal Arthur Rasting after her father who sank with Tricolor. “82 years after the MV Tricolor sank, his great-grandson’s search for the ill-fated vessel bore fruits,” says Jayawardena.

The first glimpse of the wreck of Tricolor as the expert diver recollects is “like seeing the bow of the Titanic.” ‘Fearsome and majestic’, the ship’s deck is a “gigantic skeletal structure consisting of reams of beams” reminding him of a “massive railroad stretching as far as the eye can see”, as he documents in his book. “I can feel the raw power of true wilderness chill my bones to the core,” writes Jayawardena who was kept company by a large shoal of silvery jacks and a small school of chevron barracuda! He describes the wreck towering over him like a “gigantic monster.” His dive to the wreck three years ago enabled him to retrieve a Norwegian-made plate and also locate the ship’s twin diesel engines. He also made a video recording of the site. The location referred to as ‘Barberyn’ in certain literature is actually Beruwala as he confirms. “The vessel’s last reported location was within a kilometer from the wreck, further confirming this.”

The diver’s experience each time he dived to the Tricolor, has been different. “Sometimes the visibility is amazingly clear and the currents have been slack. On the other extreme, visibility has been low but the marine life has been prolific, especially when there is extremely strong current making it really challenging to explore the Tricolor, given it is such a large ship and at this depth, which gives an explorer only short time in each dive to explore. But each dive has been rewarding in its own way and I have made small discoveries that have added to the circumstantial evidence that this is indeed the MV Tricolor.” The wreck of MV Tricolor, as Jayawardena notes, had been explored only by a handful of divers todate. “Its depth enabling only high tech divers to access it and its location unknown to many had rendered the wreck to be outside the mainstream list of dive sites offered by dive centres in the area,” he notes.


Pic credit: Olav Anders Rasting, Ramzi Reyal, Dharshana Jayawardena

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Life style

Sedantary lifestyles and diabetes



Increasingly sedentary lifestyle, and high carbohydrate diets are leading to not just diabetes but also obesity and hypertension says Dr. Shyama Subasinghe MBBS (Colombo) Hon MD (SL) Consultant Physician Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital . She obtained her overseas training at Redland hospital Brisbane Australia. She has presented her research in several national and international fora and authored the book SUwabara Mahluviyak

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease condition where the living being can’t maintain the blood sugar levels within the normal range and it remains elevated. Usually this is due to insulin deficiency or insulin resistance.

Sedentary lifestyles and High Carbohydrate diets are leading to diabetes obesity, hypertension explain?

There is a disease entity called metabolic syndrome. In this condition an individual has several or all the below mentioned conditions Obesity, Hypertension, diabetes, fatty liver, polycystic ovarian syndrome. A sedentary lifestyle pre-disposes to this by increasing insulin resistance in the body.

Can Type 2 diabetes be reversed?

Dr. Shyama Subasinghe

Type 2 Diabetes is usually not curable but controllable. In a newly diagnosed patient, there can be a temporary remission, and this is called honeymoon period, but careful regular monitoring of blood sugar is needed because majority of these people again develop high blood sugar values which needs to be controlled promptly. With good lifestyle modification, Diabetic diet, regular exercises and weight reduction certain individuals will be able to reduce or stop their diabetic medication altogether. This is not a true cure for diabetes because these individuals also develop high blood sugar levels with time.

How has the prevalence been evolving over the years and how do you explain the continuous growth?

Yes, unfortunately diabetes prevalence and incidence both are increasing despite all the measures we have taken up to date. Non adherence to health advice is the major reason. The percentage of people who are doing regular exercises is very low. And most of the people still live a sedentary lifestyle and the majority are consuming unhealthy diets. The stress level of the community has gone up with the very competitive lifestyle. Maternal obesity is identified as the independent risk factor for future development of diabetes in the offspring. Usage of certain medications like steroids and antipsychotics also contribute to increasing prevalence.

Any new innovations in the field of diabetes treatment?

Diabetic medications are divided into two major categories. Insulins and non-insulin hypoglycemic drugs. There are modern recombinant insulins available. Rangers from ultra short acting to intermediate, long and very long-acting ones making the diabetic control easier. We still do have very old oral medications like metformin, Gliclazide and acarbose. Newer medications (GLP-1 agonist, DPP-4 inhibitors, SGLT-p2 Inhibitors) has become the groundbreaking drugs due to its effect on the diabetic control and their favourable effects on the cardiovascular and renal function.

What are diabetic complications?

Diabetic complications can be divided into acute and long-term complications. DKA (Diabetes keto acidosis), HHS (Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar state) and hypoglycemic coma are some of the common acute complications. Long term diabetic complications can be divided into macro vascular or micro vascular complications. Ischemic heart disease, Stroke (CVA) and peripheral arterial disease (PAD) are the macro vascular complications of diabetes. Retinopathy, Neuropathy and nephropathy are micro vascular complications. Diabetic retinopathy is sight threatening. Therefore, every individual with diabetes should visit their eye surgeon annually. Diabetic neuropathy can affect the central as well as the peripheral nervous system. Meticulous blood sugar control is essential to prevent this complication. Diabetic nephropathy can lead to end stage renal failure requiring dialysis.

Yes, depending on the blood sugar fluctuations, escalations and de-escalation of the treatment is needed. Depending on other comorbidities, treatment changes need to be made. depending on the renal and liver functions drugs need to be changed accordingly.Now we have very long-acting insulin which needs to be injected once a week. It is good for people like travellers, mountain climbers and pilots. Insulin pumps that can detect patient own blood sugar and adjust the insulin rate accordingly are available now. They switch off the insulin delivery when the blood sugars are low there by preventing hypoglycemic coma. Nasal and oral insulins are on the way to making a happy life for patients with needle phobia. Isolated pancreatic transplant or combined pancreatic and renal transplant is the way forward for certain individuals with diabetes.

Stress causes diabetic ?

Long term stress is a well-recognized risk factor for the development of diabetes. Even short-term stress associated with acute medical conditions are known to elevate blood sugar levels.

Difference between adult diabetes and Juvenile diabetes ?

Adult diabetes is type 2 diabetes. It is due to insulin resistance. It can be managed with oral hypoglycemic drugs initially, eventually they also develop insulin deficiency requiring insulin treatment. Young Diabetes is type 1 diabetes. It is due to insulin deficiency. They need insulin from the beginning. Certain young individuals develop MODY (Maturity onset diabetes in young.) They behave like adult type 2 diabetes and can be managed with oral diabetic drugs. Rarely adults can develop type 1 diabetes then it is called LADA (Late onset Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults.). They need insulin from the beginning.

Do people with diabetes need to change their medicines over time?

Diabetic medications should go hand in hand with regular exercises, good diet control and stress reduction.Have your meals and medicines on time .Eat equal amounts every day. If you eat more and larger quantities, sugar will go up, if you eat less sugar will go down this will lead to derangement of human body’s metabolism,then your eyes and nerves get affected. Relax all the time. Consult your doctor immediately if you feel ill or discomfort any time.

Continue Reading

Life style

Some Place, Some Time” – An Exhibition of Paintings by Iranganie Wickramasinghe



For Iranganie Wickramasinghe, there is never a time to stop engaging in one’s passion. It is what gives life direction and focus, whether one is in the blossom of youth, the high noon of midlife or in the autumn years of life.

Passion is what Iranganie is following at the age of 84, chanelling her creative energy into vivid shapes and colours of all hues on canvas, delighting in the emotions they evoke in her audiences, and taking quiet joy in doing what she is exceptionally good at.

Oil and acrylic artist Iranganie Wickramasinghe will be holding her second exhibition of paintings today May 12, 2024 at the Barefoot Gallery. Themed “Some Place, Some Time”, Iranganie will be presenting her latest collection of paintings in semi-abstract style, digressing from her previous style of delicately expressing the beauty of nature. In her present collection, Iranganie has weaved into her art, the emotional connection to people, sights and sounds she has encountered over the years from her childhood. Iranganie is also a previous winner at the State Arts and Literary Awards Festival for her landscape paintings.

Continue Reading

Life style

Sheraton Colombo treats moms to an unforgettable experience



Sheraton Colombo Hotel, is creating a memorable experience this Mother’s Day, where each mom is celebrated and cherished with love and gratitude said a press release The release also said extending an invitation to the leading lady in our lives, the hotel offers a day of pure indulgence and relaxation with its stylish surroundings as the ideal sanctuary to honour and celebrate her remarkable spirit. Whether she desires a unique afternoon tea experience, a spa retreat, or simply quality time with loved ones, Sheraton Colombo Hotel presents bonding time for mothers, children and families.

In celebration of Mother’s Day, today Sheraton Colombo Hotel has curated a decadent unique afternoon Tea at the Colpetty Lounge. Signature scones served with Clotted Cream, Homemade Berry Preserve and Crème Anglasise, a delicately balanced cold and hot selection including Smoked Salmon, Classic Egg salad sandwiches and elegant tartlets offer a burst of flavour in every bite. The indulgent sweets promise to satisfy mum’s sweet tooth and leave her craving more. There will even be House made Pralines as Petit Four for guests.

Karan Talpade, Executive Chef at Sheraton Colombo, commenting on this unique experience says, “Mother’s Day is a special celebration honouring the love and sacrifices of mothers everywhere. At Sheraton Colombo Hotel, we have curated a truly indulgent experience, infusing each dish with the warmth and nurturing essence that mothers represent. From intricate flavours to artistic presentations, our Mother’s Day offerings are a heartfelt tribute to the incredible women who shape our lives with their care and devotion.”

With a rich culinary experience spanning over a decade and stints at renowned hotels across India and the Middle East, Chef Karan Talpade, will be serving an exquisite array of Mother’s Day delicacies at Sheraton Colombo Hotel.

Karan Talpade, Executive Chef

In addition, a special Mother’s Day dinner buffet awaits diners at the Colombo Kitchen, the all-day dining restaurant at the hotel the bountiful spread, together with a line-up of food and drink experiences is designed for the special occasion and an unforgettable celebration for the whole family.

Karan Talpade, previously served as Executive Sous Chef at The Luxury Collection, UAE and Chef De Cuisine at The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai. His Middle East journey began in Doha as Chef De Cuisine and Sous Chef at Marriott Marquis. Talpade honed his skills with The Oberoi Group in India as a Senior Kitchen Executive in Mumbai, and earlier roles. With global exposure and expertise, Karan aims to elevate the local culinary scene.

Promising the ultimate pampering treatment for mums, Sheraton Colombo Hotel has also designed special spa packages. It is the ideal gift to give back to the wonderful women who deserves to be indulged.

Sheraton Colombo Hotel, the first premium brand Marriott hotel in Colombo is the ideal venue to celebrate Mother’s Day. Indulge in a memorable celebration with the entire family at the hotel’s signature restaurants, where guests can enjoy a special lunch or dinner. Alternatively, pamper her with a luxurious afternoon tea. Another delightful treat for mothers is the coffee and flat croissant promotion offered by the hotel’s Ceylon Bake Shop. Notably, Sheraton Colombo Hotel holds the distinction of being the first to introduce flat croissants to the city.

The Sheraton Colombo boasts 320 ocean view rooms, quipped with modern amenities, are spacious and stylishly designed. Guests can choose from elegant junior suites, executive suites and a presidential suite. The hotel’s design and curated guest experience are seamlessly integrated to create an environment that works in harmony, strengthening the brand’s vision of being the world’s gathering place.

Continue Reading