Splainer

Thursday, June 3 2021


Dive In

It is a kind of manual for rape victims, how they should conduct themselves.

That was one of the key remarks made by The High Court of Bombay at Goa about the ruling in the Tarun Tejpal case (explained here)—as it considered the Goa government’s challenge to it. Meanwhile, 300 women's groups, activists and academicians have issued a joint statement condemning the judgement: “The judgment showcases the kind of gruelling trial that a survivor of sexual assault has to face in an insensitive court atmosphere and the relentless, cruel and often scandalous, illegal and irrelevant cross examination that a prosecutrix also faces."

Big Story

A catastrophic shipwreck in Sri Lanka

The TLDR: A cargo ship laden with dangerous chemicals caught on fire off the coast of Colombo, and is now sinking—raising fears of a massive oil spill. It is being described as “the worst environmental disaster for Sri Lanka.” We look at how this happened, and the likely consequences.

 

Tell me about this ship

The Singapore-registered X-Press Pearl headed out from Dubai—via Qatar and India—and was en route to Malaysia. The 186m-long (610ft) ship left the Indian port of Hazira on May 15, and was nine nautical miles off the coast of Sri Lanka when it caught fire on May 20—which then raged for two weeks. It is now sinking into the sea—because the rear of the ship has sprung a leak. 

 

Here is a powerful image of the sinking ship:

 

And here is its exact location off the Sri Lankan coast:

 

The lethal cargo: There were 1486 containers on the vessel when the fire started—of which 81 of were ‘Dangerous Goods Containers’, including 25 tonnes of nitric acid. 

 

Why did it catch fire?

The exact cause is not known yet. What we do know is that one of the nitric acid containers developed a leak. Nitric acid is a highly corrosive substance used to make fertilisers and explosives. The crew knew about the leak since May 11, and tried to get rid of the container, according to the ship’s management:

 

“Applications had been made to both ports [in Qatar and India] to offload a container that was leaking nitric acid but the advice given was there were no specialist facilities or expertise immediately available to deal with the leaking acid.”

 

Point to note: There is a widespread anger at the fact that Sri Lanka allowed the ship with a leaky container into its waters. Officials have lodged a police complaint against the captain—after he was rescued from the ship. A court has since issued an order preventing the captain, chief engineer and the additional engineer from leaving the country.

 

What are they doing about this?

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In today’s edition

Headlines That Matter

  • Nestlé is bad for you
  • A wtf US story about death penalty
  • Mexico is mad at Zara et al
  • The world’s first free-standing floating pool

 

Reading Habit

  • The inherent gender bias in the business of celebrity memoirs
  • Associating “guilty pleasure” with a lack of “productivity” is a fallacy
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