Even though the aft of the vessel had settled on the seabed, the forward portion of the ship was still afloat and salvors had hoped to attach a tow line to move the ship away from the Sri Lankan coastline, reports The Loadstar, UK.
Experts believe the vessel will now be declared a total loss and, while this has not been officially confirmed, an accident specialist said the latest images of the X-Press Pearl suggest there is no way back for a vessel that was only delivered in February.
The vessel was carrying chemicals and plastic pellets which have been burning off the coast of Sri Lanka for nearly two weeks. It also was carrying 1,486 containers. Eighty-one of those were dangerous goods containers, including 25 tonnes of nitric acid. At least one container has leaked nitric acid.
A spokesman for Sri Lanka's Navy, Captain Indika de Silva, said the ship was loaded with 350 tonnes of oil, and a combination of heavy fuel and marine fuel. He said it was 'too early to say about an oil spill,' but warned that there was 'still a possibility.'
The New York Times reported that Sri Lanka's Marine Protection Authority has described the spill as 'probably the worst beach pollution in our history.'
Dr Asha de Vos, a marine biologist said: 'This is one of the worst marine disasters that has happened in Sri Lanka. Our only saving grace is that there was no oil spill. If that happens, that will be incredibly tragic.'
Kanchana Wijesekera, Sri Lanka's minister of fisheries, said that if there is a spill, booms and skimmers will be used around the vessel and at strategic locations, and spray will be used to disperse the oil slick.
Sri Lanka has temporarily banned fishing along a 50-mile stretch of its coast, where nitric acid has leaked into the water, and plastic pellets have washed up ashore.
X-Press Feeders, the company that operated the vessel, said the ship's crew had requested it be permitted to offload the leaking container at two previous stops, in India and Qatar, but were denied because the ports lacked the 'specialist facilities or expertise' needed to 'deal with the leaking acid.' according to X-Press Feeders.
The Associated Press reported that Sri Lankan police are investigating the fire, and a court in Colombo has banned the ship's captain, the engineer and the assistant engineer from leaving the country. The government said it will take legal action against the owners of the ship, according to the wire service.