Environmental disaster in Sri Lanka. A merchant ship carrying tons of chemicals sank off the east coast after a fire on board. The Colombo government therefore decided to ban fishing 50 miles from the coast for what has been called one of the worst marine and environmental disasters in the area. There are 5,600 fishing boats and hundreds of soldiers busy cleaning up the coast. The sinking was the MV X-Press Pearl, a merchant ship registered in Singapore, which was carrying 1,486 containers including 25 tons of nitric acid along with other chemicals and cosmetics.