Sri Lanka opens $400 million expanded port in capital that can take large ships

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka has opened an expanded port that lets bigger ships now enter the capital's harbour.

The project formally opened by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday comes as the Indian Ocean nation tries to make itself a strategically important economic centre.

The expansion was funded with $300 million loaned by the Asian Development Bank and $100 million provided by two government agencies.

The port was deepened from 18 metres (59 feet) to 23 metres (75 feet). It has a 6.8-kilometre (4.2-mile) breakwater and 285 hectares of harbour basin.

The latest generation of mega-vessels with a capacity of 18,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) can now sail into the harbour.