One Filipino crew member died after a boiler in the main engine room exploded, causing the fire, the Sri Lankan Navy said. All other persons on board, 22 in all, were rescued from the ship, which is carrying 270,000 metric tons of crude oil.
Photos and video showed thick black smoke pouring from one end of the Panamanian-flagged tanker, MT New Diamond, 38 nautical miles (70 kilometers) off Sangamankanda Point in southern Sri Lanka.
Speaking to CNN, Sri Lankan Navy Captain Indika Desilva said that as of Friday morning local time, the fire was “still on.”
“Efforts are on to prevent the fire from spreading to the cargo oil. No information has been received of an oil spill yet. Firefighting continues,” he said.
The Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Air Force, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard are all working to put out the fire.
According to a statement from the Sri Lankan Navy, currently the fire has had “no effect” on the oil stored on board, and “necessary steps are being taken to prevent the fire from spreading to those crude oil storage facilities.”
“There is still no risk of the ship leaking oil into the ocean,” the statement said.