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X-Press Pearl disaster: Lanka seeks Chinese help to evaluate pollution



Sri Lanka has requested Chinese help to evaluate the scale of the pollution caused by the X-Press Pearl disaters, Xinhua reported on June 3.

A fire erupted on board the vessel on May 19. The government made an abortive bid to tow the vessel to deep seas. It sank on Thursday (3)

Xinhua report said: On day two after the explosion, Chinese experts from the China-Sri Lanka Joint Center for Education and Research (CSL-CER) received a request from Sri Lanka’s National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA), the principal national institute responsible for safeguarding aquatic resources in the country.

Through a forecast model, the CSL-CER helped evaluate the scale of the pollution caused by the debris and the extent to which the chemicals could spread.

The southwest monsoon makes frequent landfall in Sri Lanka in May. At the observation site of the CSL-CER based on the campus of the University of Ruhuna, an Automatic Weather Station (AWS) has been recently updated to study the effects of the monsoon outbreak.

Luo Yao, associate professor at the CSL-CER, told Xinhua that the AWS can improve the accuracy of forecasting models, and it can forecast marine environmental disasters caused by the burnt cargo ship.

“The AWS can monitor the atmospheric pressure, wind speed and direction, solar radiation and other marine atmospheric parameters. The accumulated data through long-term observations can be used to study the impact of climate change, sea level rise and other issues in the Indian Ocean and surrounding areas,” Luo said.

Sri Lanka is located in an area with warm currents between the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean and is one of the most active regions on the path of the monsoon, with frequent marine meteorological disasters. Due to the shortage of marine scientific research personnel and the lack of a mature monsoon climate forecast system, Sri Lanka is vulnerable to marine disasters.

In order to strengthen the capacity to cope with climate change, the CSL-CER was established in 2015 at the University of Ruhuna, the only university in Sri Lanka with a faculty of fisheries and marine sciences.

Vijithamuni Zoysa, former Sri Lankan minister of fisheries, once spoke highly of the observation network, saying that “the network has provided scientific and technological support for the development of the marine economy in Sri Lanka and the reduction of marine meteorological disasters caused by extreme weather such as tsunamis and storms, which are related to people’s livelihood and economic development.”

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some difficulties for personnel exchanges at the center, it has not stopped its activities. In March this year, the China-Sri Lanka Joint Workshop on Monsoon Climate and Marine Environmental Resource was held as scheduled in both China and Sri Lanka simultaneously by combining online and offline methods.

“As an island country, Sri Lanka is particularly concerned about the monsoon. The enhanced cooperation between China and Sri Lanka on the monsoon issue will enable us to better understand the impact of the monsoon on the environment and reduce disasters caused by climate change,” said Tilak Gamage, co-director of the CSL-CER.

“The successive bilateral seminars on the ocean and climate have greatly enhanced Sri Lanka’s capacity to address climate issues and influence in the international arena,” Gamage said.

Zhang Changsheng, director of the CSL-CER, told Xinhua that since its establishment, the CSL-CER has not only done research but also paid attention to cultivating marine science talent in Sri Lanka.

The center has trained about 30 Sri Lankan graduate students in the fields of marine science and environmental science. They have later engaged in further scientific research in Sri Lanka.

The center has also conducted hydrological training for Sri Lankan institutions and trained personnel for meteorological observation, instrument use, and maintenance.

Charith Madusanka, a research fellow currently employed by both the CSL-CER and his alma mater the University of Ruhuna, is the first China-trained master’s degree student in oceanography from Sri Lanka.

Madusanka said, “Since I went to China, many of my classmates have turned to China.”

Nalin Wikramanayake, a senior Sri Lankan oceanographer, told Xinhua that the CSL-CER has made a major contribution to marine sciences and oceanography in Sri Lanka. 



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MP’s wife, father-in-law among three detained



Rishad held under PTA to be questioned

16-year-old girl’s death:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Police investigating the death of 16-year-old Ishalini, the domestic servant at All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader Rishad Bathiudeen’s Baudhaloka Mawatha residence have arrested Ayesha Shiabdeen, 46, the wife of the former minister.

Police also took into custody Rishad’s father-in-law Mohammed Shiabdeen, 70, and Ponnaiah Pandaram alias Shankar, 64, a resident of Dayagama.

Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said that Shankar had brought Ilashini from Dayagama to the Baudhaloka Mawatha residence of Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Vanni District lawmaker late last year.

Having studied the post postmortem report, they were taken into custody in terms of Section 360 C and Section 308 B of the Penal Code that dealt with human trafficking and cruelty to children, the top police officer said. According to him, so far 20 statements had been recorded.

Asked whether MP Bathiudeen, too, had been among the questioned, Senior DIG Rohana said the parliamentarian detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) over 2019 Easter Sunday carnage, too, would be interrogated in that regard.

The ACMC contested the last general election on the SJB ticket. It switched its allegiance to the SJB ahead of 2020 general election after having represented the cabinet in UNP led yahapalana administration. Rishad has also served President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s cabinet during his second term.

Having suffered serious burn injuries on July 3 at the MP’s residence and admitted to the National Hospital, Illashini succumbed to her injuries on July 15th. Medical examination revealed that she had been raped over a period of time.

The police spokesman said that they intended to secure court approval to detain the suspects for 72 hours. A Superintendent of Police could obtain such approval on the strength of a B report submitted to the court in respect of offenses on children.

Although, the police indicated earlier in the day they would be produced in Colombo Magistrate court they weren’t brought in.

Meanwhile, the SJB said that interested parties were making a despicable attempt to politicize the incident. The police should be allowed to conduct the investigation without interference, a spokesman for the main Opposition party said.


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Women’s organisations in North conduct protests demanding justice for Ilashini



A section of those engaged in Jaffna protests


By Dinasena Ratugamage

Women’s organisations in the North yesterday held a number of demonstrations in Vavuniya, Mannar, Kilinochchi and Jaffna against the death of J. Ilashini, the 16 -year-old girl who died while working at SJB MP Rishad Bathiudeen’s residence.

The protesters urged authorities to ensure that investigations into the death are conducted in a transparent manner. The family of the victim should be compensated and those guilty punished, they said.

Representatives of the organisations said that if justice was not done, they would hold a massive demonstration in Tarapuram, Mannar, which Bathiudeen represents in Parliament.

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Dancer lodges complaint with police over FB post 



Police headquarters yesterday (23) said that dancer Anusha Damayanthi had lodged a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) over a Facebook post alleging that she was running a brothel.

Police headquarters said that Damayanthi, while denying the accusation, had also brought to the CID’s notice that a minister was being accused of lambasting the Walana anti-crime strike force for carrying out the raid. Police said that an investigation was underway.

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