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The Singapore-registered container ship MV X-Press Pearl sinking after burning for almost two weeks just outside Colombo's harbor on June 2. Photo: Ishara Kodikara/AFP via Getty Images

A Singapore-registered container ship carrying containers of harmful chemicals and plastics is on the verge of sinking outside the port of Colombo, Sri Lanka, after burning for almost two weeks.

Why it matters: The events are shaping up to be one of Sri Lanka's worst environmental crises.

Context: Sri Lankan and Indian military personnel extinguished most of the blaze upon the ship, registered as the X-Press Pearl, earlier this week.

  • Toxic debris from the fire has blanketed miles of the country's western coastline, and "billions of plastic pellets" from the ship have washed up on beaches up to 75 miles south, according to the Washington Post.
  • It is unknown how the fire started.

By the numbers: The ship had been carrying 1,486 containers, 81 of which contained dangerous goods, including 25 tons of nitric acid. It was also carrying 78 metric tons of plastic pellets

  • The country's ministry of fisheries has also prepared for a potential oil spill, since the ship is sinking with hundreds of tons of oil meant to fuel it to Malaysia.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

What they're saying: X-Press Feeders, the cargo ship company that operates X-Press Pearl, said Wednesday "that the ships aft portion is sitting on the seabed at a depth of about 21 meters, and the forward section is settling down slowly."

  • The company said it "regret[s] to report that despite salvors successfully boarding the vessel and attaching a tow wire, efforts to move the ship to deeper waters have failed..."
  • What to watch: Sri Lanka's government said it will take legal action against the owners of the ship, according to NPR.

Go deeper

Jun 2, 2021 - World

Iran's largest warship sinks after catching fire

Iranian support warship Kharg in 2009. Photo: Majid Jamshidi-Hossein Zohrevand/AFP via Getty Images

Iran's largest navy ship, known as the Kharg, caught on fire on Wednesday and sunk in the Gulf of Oman, according to state media.

Details: The fire broke out at around 2:25 a.m. while the ship was near Iran's Port of Jask, a major shipping lane. No casualties were reported and the entire crew was able to escape the wreck and was taken to safety on the coast, per NPR.

Trump sues National Archives, Jan. 6 committee to block records request

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the National Archives from releasing White House records to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, citing executive privilege.

Why it matters: It's the latest escalation in Trump's campaign to disrupt the committee's sweeping probe into the circumstances surrounding Jan. 6, including his actions and communications leading up to the Capitol attack.

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID-19 complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.