X-Press Pearl shipwreck: Renaissance Sri Lanka helps children in Modara
In 2021, the sinking of the container ship X-Press Pearls off the coast of Sri Lanka hit the islanders hard. Among the first victims were the marine life and the families living from the fishing industry. To help the children of Modara, a region hardly hit by the incident, Renaissance Sri Lanka mobilised its resources and teams.
The sinking of the X-Press Pearl, an environmental and human catastrophe
On May 21, 2021, the Singapore-registered Chinese container ship X-Press Pearl caught fire off the coast of Ski Lanka, just 9 km northwest of Colombo. The ship was carrying several containers filled with chemicals, both toxic and dangerous. The mixture of nitric acid and other chemicals is believed to have caused the ship to burn and explode.
After burning for 12 long days, the X-Press Pearl finally sank, releasing chemicals (nitric acid, sodium dioxide, copper, lead, etc.) and tons of plastic. The consequences of this disaster are terrible for the environment. The marine fauna and flora are considerably impacted, especially sea turtles and dolphins, many of which have been found dead on the beaches. The coral reefs will take decades to rebuild.
In addition to the environmental disaster, the sinking of the X-Press Pearl is also a human tragedy. In Sri Lanka, nearly 583,000 people are employed in the fishing industry and there is a workforce of 2.7 million people. Due to the spill of highly toxic products in Sri Lankan waters, the island’s authorities have imposed a fishing ban on approximately 175,000 square meters until October 2021. As soon as fishing reopened, another ban was decided on the area from the Panadura River to Ma Oya, passing through the port of Colombo and the port of Negombo.
The fishing communities, as well as all the people living in the fishing industry who populate these territories, are thus plunged into great economic and sanitary precariousness. Tourism also suffers greatly from the aftermath of this disaster as these areas have become inaccessible. This situation is in the wake of the Covid crisis and the economic difficulties in which Sri Lanka is plunged.
With record inflation and the price of raw materials and basic necessities rising, Sri Lankans are facing an unprecedented situation that has been aggravated by the consequences of the sinking of the X-Press Pearl. Renaissance Sri Lanka has decided to act to help these fishing families, especially the children.
Renaissance Sri Lanka decides to help the children of Modara
Faced with the heavy economic and environmental consequences of the fire on the container ship, Renaissance Sri Lanka has decided to mobilize its resources to help the children of the families living from fishing in the region of Modara, in the suburbs of Colombo. This area, the first victim of the sinking of the X-Press Pearl, is particularly affected by the economic and health crisis.
Renaissance Sri Lanka collaborated with the United Congress of Fishermen and Fishermen Workers to help 156 children from Modara and to distribute school supplies. This operation took place on September 17, 2022. Among these children, those up to 10 years old received packages containing school books, exercise books, pens, pencils, and other school supplies. Adolescents up to 16 years of age also received packages containing school supplies adapted to their age and level.
Distribution of school supplies to children of Modara
Sri Lanka is facing great difficulties in importing the necessary materials for school children and textbooks. The prices have increased considerably over the last few years and it took two months for the Renaissance Sri Lanka teams to collect all the supplies they needed. The high price of gasoline was also an economic obstacle to overcome in order to make the operation a success.
To carry out the project, Renaissance Sri Lanka was able to rely on the funds raised through the Lantern Projects campaign. The supplies were distributed at the De La Salla Street Community Fishing Center in Modara. The children and their families welcomed the teams with joy and good humor and showed their gratitude for the help given, so precious in these times of crisis and uncertainty.
It is clear that the aftermath of the X-Press Pearl will leave deep and lasting scars on the economy and environment of Sri Lanka. More than ever, the Pearl of the Indian Ocean is facing one difficulty after another that is putting the country’s finances and the morale of its people to the test. Renaissance Sri Lanka continues to honor its commitment to accompany Sri Lanka in its economic development and helps its people, hand in hand, to overcome the disasters that strike the island.
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