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Fire-hit supertanker owner to pay £1.4 million for Sri Lanka's help

FILE PHOTO: A Sri Lankan Navy boat sprays water on the New Diamond, a very large crude carrier chartered by Indian Oil Corp carrying about 2 million barrels of oil, after a fire broke out off east coast of Sri Lanka September 8, 2020. Sri Lankan Airforce media/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

COLOMBO/NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The owners the New Diamond supertanker which caught fire with a cargo of two million barrels of oil aboard has agreed to pay 340 million rupees (£1.44 million) to Sri Lanka for its help in extinguishing the blaze and averting disaster.

The interim claim is for services provided by the Sri Lankan navy, air force, ports authority and Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) after the fire on Sept. 3 until Sept 15, said Nishara Jayaratne, coordination officer of Sri Lanka’s Attorney General.

Insurers of the vessel West of England will settle the bill, MEPA Chairperson Dharshani Lahandapura said.

The New Diamond, loaded with Kuwaiti oil, is chartered by Indian Oil Corp and is currently 66 nautical miles (122 kilometres) from Batticaloa on Sri Lanka’s east coast.

MEPA has allowed the release of 20 crew members while one injured sailor is undergoing treatment in a private hospital in Sri Lanka, Lahandapura said.

The captain has not been allowed to leave the country as he is going through legal proceedings, she said.

Greece-based Porto Emporios Shipping Inc is the registered owner of the 20-year old Panama-flagged very large crude carrier, Refinitiv data showed.

Lahandapura said the interim claim does not include damages for the spill of marine oil. While it did leak fuel, its crude oil cargo remained intact.

The ship’s managers, New Shipping Ltd, have appointed SMIT Singapore Pte Ltd to lead salvage operations.

Reporting by Nidhi Verma; editing by Jason Neely

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