X-Press Feeders, the operator of the burnt-out containership X-Press Pearl (IMO 9875343) has made an initial payment of $3.6m to the Sri Lankan government.
The payment, made through the vessel owner’s P&I insurers London Club, is intended to help compensate those affected by the consequences of the fire and subsequent sinking of the vessel about 10 miles off the west coast of Sri Lanka, in about 22 metres of water.
Sri Lanka has claimed $40m and the $3.6m interim payment will be spent on locating the remaining sunken containers from the ship and compensating the fisheries sector.
X-Press Feeders has also urged that the local authorities allow the vessel’s crew to be allowed to go home. It said that “our seafarers remain housed at a hotel in Colombo, awaiting permission to travel back to their anxious families and loved ones. Having endured the trauma and stress of the fire on board and an evacuation that caused injuries to their ranks, they have now been in lockdown for over six weeks”.
Meanwhile, investigators have arrested seven employees of the ship’s local agent, Setmil Group. Its chairman Arjuna Hettiarachchi was arrested. Local reports have claimed that his company had tried to cover up information about the vessel. The ship’s captain is currently out on bail.
In other developments, on August 3rd Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court will hear a fundamental rights petition filed in connection with the X-Press Pearl. The petition seeks an order directing the government to use at least 70% of the wreck-related compensation to launch a programme to protect the parts of the ocean that were damaged by the fire.
The petition was called on July 8th before a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court. At that hearing the court pointed out that no notices in this case had been issued to the respondents other than the Attorney General.
The counsel for the petitioners stated that the respondents could not send proper messages due to the recent travel restrictions.
The three-judge bench accordingly directed the counsel for the petitioner to send notices to the respondents and ordered that the petition be summoned on August 3rd.
2021-built, Singapore-flagged, 31,629 gt X-Press Pearl is owned by Eos Ro Pte Ltd care of manager Sea Consortium Pte Ltd (X-Press Feeders) of Singapore, ISM manager is Eastaway Ship Management Pte. It is entered with London Club on behalf of Killiney Shipping Pte Ltd.