Captain of fire-stricken ship barred from leaving Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A court in Sri Lanka on Monday barred the captain of an oil tanker that caught fire off the coast from leaving the Indian ocean nation.

A magistrate in Colombo imposed the restriction on Steiros Illias, captain of the MT New Diamond. He appeared in court after the attorney general directed police to name him a suspect in the fire. The next hearing in the case is on Oct. 12.

On Saturday, the owner of ship, Greece-based Porto Emporios Shipping Inc., agreed to pay $2.3 million to Sri Lanka for its help in extinguishing the blaze.

The government also plans to submit a claim to the owner for damage to the marine environment caused by the fire.

The 20-year-old ship, which was carrying nearly 2 million barrels of crude oil, was damaged by two fires in early September.

Experts have been working to salvage the ship, which remains in Sri Lankan waters.

The tanker was transporting crude oil from the port of Mina Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Indian port of Paradip, where the state-owned Indian Oil Corp. has a refinery.

The initial fire killed one Filipino crew member and injured another, while 21 other crew members escaped uninjured.

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