Hundreds of dead turtles wash ashore in Sri Lanka after cargo ship wreck

Hundreds of dead turtles wash ashore in Sri Lanka after cargo ship wreck

There were more than 190 items of cargo (on the ship) and most of it was plastic-based

Hundreds of turtles have washed ashore after a ship caught fire and sank off the west coast of Sri Lanka in June in the country's worst-ever marine disaster, a court in the capital Colombo heard this week.

A fire erupted on the Singapore-registered MV X-Press Pearl on May 20, carrying 1,486 containers, including 25 tonnes of nitric acid along with other chemicals and cosmetics. It sank on June 2 even as salvage crew tried to tow the vessel away from the coast.

Hundreds of dead turtles wash ashore in Sri Lanka after cargo ship wreck
Sri Lanka faces 'worst-ever beach pollution' from burning ship

The Russian captain of the ship appeared in court on Thursday but has yet to be charged in a case environmental experts say is Sri Lanka's worst man-made environmental disaster.

The toxins released from the ship have killed 176 turtles, 20 dolphins and four whales, Deputy Solicitor General, Madawa Tennakoon, said at an initial court hearing on Wednesday.

A video by a local television station seen by Reuters showed carcasses of dead sea turtles and countless plastic pellets scattered over the shore with several volunteers working to clear them.

"There were more than 190 items of cargo (on the ship) and most of it was plastic-based," Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told reporters.

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