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Sunken cargo ship Sri Lanka's worst man-made environmental disaster: Expert

A coastal oceanography professor says a sunken cargo ship off the west coast of Sri Lanka marks the country's worst man-made environmental disaster. 

"From an environmental view it is Sri Lanka's worst ever man-made disaster," said Charitha Pattiaratchi, a professor of coastal oceanography at the University of Western Australia, on Thursday.

The university's modeling indicated the plastic pellets from the ship - the raw material for shopping bags - would travel as far as Indonesia, India and Somalia, he added.

Photos from the country's coast guard showed a layer of green film blanketing the ocean surrounding the vessel, and billions of plastic pellets have already fouled surrounding beaches and fishing grounds, forcing the government to ban fishing along an 80-kilometre stretch of coast.

Sri Lanka has braced for the possibility of an oil spill. The Singapore-registered MV X-Press Pearl, carrying 1,486 containers, including 25 tonnes of nitric acid along with other chemicals and cosmetics, was anchored off the Colombo port when a fire erupted onboard after an explosion on May 20. 

Flaming containers filled with chemicals tumbled into the sea from the ship's deck as emergency crews sought to contain the blaze over the ensuing two weeks.

(Source: Reuters) 

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