Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Publication date: 4 September 2007


(2007), "Marine", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 16 No. 4.

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


December 2005 Shinsei Maru No. 3 (Japan)

The police’s National Fraud Squad wrapped up its investigation today into the September collision between the Israeli c.c. Zim-Asia and Japanese fishing Shinsei Maru No.3, in which seven Japanese fishermen were killed. Police recommended indicting the ship’s second officer, Pilastro Zdrako, a Serbian national with negligent homicide and the violation of Port Authority regulations. In the case of the ship’s captain, Moshe Ben David, police said they found deficiencies in his performance but refrained from issuing a recommendation on whether he should be indicted. Police passed his file to the prosecution, which will make a final decision after reviewing the evidence. Police said the prosecution would have to decide if Ben David could be held responsible according to the Israeli Penal Code for the accident that occurred while his second officer was in command of the vessel. “According to the findings,” police said, “the collision was caused during a non-routine manoeuvre that the Zim-Asia made, while following an order made by the second officer who commanded the vessel at the time of the collision.” During the investigation, police cleared the Zim Shipping Company of responsibility for the collision. Police added that the Japanese fishing boat did not take proper security measures to prevent the accident. Today the Tel Aviv District Court decided to release Zdrako to house arrest but extended an order preventing him from leaving the country until the end of January.

January 2006 Bow Mariner (Singapore)

A Coast Guard investigation into the explosion and sinking of chemical/oil carrier Bow Mariner off the Virginia coast nearly two years ago has disclosed that the master abandoned ship without sending a distress call or trying to save his crew. While unable to pinpoint what sparked the explosion that led to the deaths of 21 of the 27 men on board, the investigation also faults the master for violating safety guidelines when he ordered vapour-filled cargo tanks opened for cleaning while the ship was en route to Houston. Capt. Efstratios Kavouras’ order to open 22 tanks that previously held methyl tert butyl ether “was a stunningly significant breach of normal safe practices for a tank ship and defies explanation or excuse”, according to one of 20 conclusions by Coast Guard investigators. The report, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, further concluded that the crew was poorly trained in safety procedures and that friction between the ship’s Greek officers and Filipino crewmembers contributed to the death toll. The explosion involved the ignition of a fuel/air mixture, the report said. While the ignition source could not be determined, investigators said it probably came from one of the following: electrostatic discharge, mechanical sparks caused by metal-on-metal contact, faulty electrical equipment, hot soot or particles from the ship’s smoke stack or funnel, or even sparks from changing batteries in a flashlight. Because the tanks had not been washed or mechanically ventilated, the concentration of vapour was well above the “upper explosive limit” for methyl tert butyl ether, the report said. Opening all the cargo tank hatches permitted vapours to escape at deck level, exposing crewmembers to a greater risk of an explosion from an accidental spark. The ignition produced two major explosions less than two minutes apart that began at 1806, February 28, 2004, that resulted in catastrophic structural damage and immediate flooding. The ship sank in one hour and 32 minutes. Kavouras, whose body was among those missing after the explosion, was one of three Greek officers on board ship and drew much of the criticism from investigators. However, also contributing to the disaster “was the failure of the operator, Ceres, and senior officers of Bow Mariner to properly implement the company’s and vessel’s Safety, Quality and Environmental System”, investigators said. For example: Cargo tanks were not fixed in stationary positions or neutralized of their chemical activity as required; procedures for cleaning tanks were not followed; procedures for entering confined spaces were not followed; the failure of one of two required blowers used to disburse vapours was not reported; monthly fire drills were not conducted; training was scheduled and recorded in the minutes of a safety committee meeting but not actually held. “Opening of all of the hatches for the empty cargo tanks, as was done on the Bow Mariner, fails to conform to any known customary marine practice,” investigators wrote. “Because the tanks had not been washed or mechanically ventilated, the concentration of vapour was very high and certainly above the upper explosive limit for the MTBE,” the report continues. “Opening all of the cargo tank hatches permitted vapours to escape at deck level, where the crew was actively working. This exposed them to toxic vapours and increased the likelihood of an explosion to initiate from an accidental spark.” In a statement, an Odfjell official said the company will review the Coast Guard report to determine how safety can be improved. “Odfjell has been very active in international industry organizations to reduce the risk of a tragedy of this magnitude ever happening again and has also worked to implement procedures and training to strengthen safety in our operations,” said Jan Didrik Lorentz, a senior vice president. Investigators also cited significant culture problems between the Greek officers and 24 Filipino crewmembers. The Filipinos said they were treated with disrespect by the officers and were constantly threatened with being fired. “The survivors clearly feared the Greek officers, and each stated that they would obey any order from them, even if they knew the order to be unsafe,” the investigators said. “While these may have been the usual complaints of the lowest ranking crewmen on board ship, there can be no question that such fear can lead to a shipboard culture where safety takes a backseat to preserving one’s livelihood,” the report said. “Filipino officers did not take their meals in the officer’s mess, were given almost no responsibility and were closely supervised in every task,” according to the report. The attitude toward Filipino officers and crew was not limited to Bow Mariner, the Coast Guard said. As part of the investigation, Jerry R. Crooks Jr, senior investigator for the Marine Safety Office in Norfolk and the investigating officer for Bow Mariner, wrote that he visited a sister ship, Bow Transporter in Singapore, and observed many of the same attitudes. “The Filipinos were only permitted to speak to the investigating officer and Singapore officials in the presence of the senior officers, leading to obvious nervousness,” Crooks wrote in the report. “Nevertheless, several crew members made statements confirming the same cultural divide existed onboard Bow Transporter.” Probably the most telling evidence of the lack of cohesiveness onboard Bow Mariner was its response to the explosion, the report said. Although the official language of the crew was English, Kavouras and Chief Engineer Legantis-Eley A. Athansiou, 47, were conversing in Greek when they assembled with some of the crew on the stern of the ship after the explosions. “Messman Tagle, who was with this group, reported that he and the rest of the crew were simply waiting for someone to tell them what to do,” the investigators wrote. “Those instructions never came.” “The final blow came when Captain Kavouras ignored questions from Third Officer Ortilano about whether a distress signal had been sent,” the report said, referring to Lugen T. Ortilano. “Instead of an organised, thoughtful response, the situation deteriorated to “every man for himself!” Ceres officials have defended Kavouras actions, the Coast Guard acknowledged, citing emotional trauma triggered by the explosions, fire and immediate tilting of the ship. “However, such trauma is expected and is precisely the reason that crews must be thoroughly trained and frequently drilled,” the report concluded. “Capt. Kavouras abandoned ship without sending a distress signal, or conducting a muster, and left behind crew members he knew to be alive,” the investigation said. “Such conduct reflects his failure to conduct regular, realistic drills to prevent just such a reaction.” Kavouras and Athansiou abandoned ship within ten minutes of the explosion, surviving crewmembers told the Coast Guard. The ship was still afloat when Coast Guard rescue helicopters and other ships arrived. Ortilano, 33, making his first trip on Bow Mariner, was credited with saving his life and those of five others by rushing from the stern of the ship back to the bridge to radio a distress call to the Coast Guard. Their delayed entry into the water limited their exposure to the cold and allowed them to climb into a life raft that had been released. All six were rescued by the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard recommended its report be sent to the government of Greece, the Philippines and Singapore, as well as to the owners and operators of the ship and international and American shipping interests. However, other than recommending that Ceres review its internal policies on workforce interaction and reminding maritime interests of the importance of verifying a tanker ship’s compliance for tank cleaning, tests and inspections, there were few other suggestions. Although the delay in releasing the report is unusual, the Coast Guard complained from the beginning of the investigation that legal and political manoeuvring by the ship’s owners and operators hampered the investigation. Except for the cook and messman, the four other survivors initially declined to talk to authorities. The U.S. attorney’s office in Norfolk issued subpoenas to get them to speak before a grand jury, but only after promising immunity from prosecution. The Coast Guard cited Ceres for pollution and has recommended a fine of $11,000, said Crooks, the senior investigator. That case is pending.

January 2006 Andrew J. Barberi (USA)

The pilot at the helm of the New York Staten Island ferry Andrew J.Barberi when it crashed in 2003, killing 11 people, and the city’s former ferry director, were given jail terms in New York today. Assistant Captain Richard Smith, who passed out in the pilot’s house of the Andrew J. Barberi after taking medication with drowsy side effects, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. The former ferry director, Patrick Ryan, was also sentenced to one year and one day in jail on related charges of negligence. A probation official had recommended that the pilot, Richard Smith, get three months in prison and Ryan get six months. Last month, a federal investigator recommended that Smith and Ryan receive sentences of less than one year, far below sentencing guidelines. Victims and relatives of those who died got a chance to speak this afternoon before the sentences were announced. During the court hearing, Smith offered an impassioned apology in a statement to the court. Ryan also apologized to the families before he was given the jail terms. Eleven people died, and more than 70 were injured when the vessel ran into a concrete maintenance pier at full speed at the St. George Terminal in Staten Island in October of 2003. It was the worst accident in the Manhattan-Staten Island ferry service’s 100-year history. Since the crash, more than 200 people have sued the city which, without a cap, could face up to billions of dollars in damages.

January 2006 Express Samina (Greece)

The prosecutor in the trial of eight people charged with responsibility for the sinking of passenger ro/ro Express Samina six years ago, a disaster that led to 80 deaths, says two of the defendants should serve criminal sentences while the other six should either be found innocent or face misdemeanours. Panayiotis Brakoumatsos concluded his summation by recommending that the vessel’s master Vassilis Yiannakis and first mate Anastassios Psychoyios should be sentenced for the disruption of sea transport with possible malice aforethought, leading to the death of some of those on board. This is a criminal charge which would carry a longer jail sentence than negligence, a misdemeanour. Brakoumatsos also argued that the pair were guilty of causing a shipwreck through negligence and serial manslaughter through negligence. The prosecutor argued during the case that the two defendants had been overly confident in their abilities, had not trained their crew properly and did not carry out their duties correctly. He also recommended that both men be found innocent of abandoning the vessel. Brakoumatsos said the three other crewmembers on trial, second mate Giorgos Triandafyllos, first engineer Gerasimos Skiadaressis and radio officer Dimitris Tsoumas, should be found guilty of misdemeanours. He also recommended that seaman Panayiotis Kasdaglis be cleared of all charges. The former managing director of passenger ferry firm Minoan Flying Dolphins, since renamed Hellenic Seaways, Nikolaos Vikatos, should be found guilty of misdemeanours, Brakoumatsos argued. Another former representative of the ferry firm, Costas Klironomos, should be found innocent, said the prosecutor.

January 2006 Zenei Maru (Belize)

Rescuers recovered the body of another crewmember from Belize fishing Zeina-Maru (? Zenei Maru) that sank off the Sakhalin island on Monday night, the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk rescue centre reported. The number of confirmed fatalities thus reached eight, with three seamen still missing. They are presumed dead as the chances of surviving in icy water temperatures are infinitesimal. The vessel reportedly had a crew of 12 Russians. All the eight bodies were recovered by the fishing vessels which sped to the scene after an An-24 reconnaissance plane of the Emergency Situations Ministry reported their location. The eighth body was evacuated by trawler Shestakovo. The dead sailor had on him the papers of Zeina-Maru crew members. The document lists the names of the crewmembers and the dates and places of birth. The only survivor of the shipwreck is a resident of Nakhodka, aged 28. He is presently on board trawler Asanda, but has not yet given any account of the accident. An emergency beacon on the Zeina-Maru may-dayed at 03:00, Moscow time. Four hours later, Asanda detected a raft with one sailor, who said the second raft had failed to inflate and that 11 crewmembers jumped into the water in hydro-suits. However, the gear proved inadequate in adverse weather, with the water temperature at two degrees Celsius and ambient air temperature at minus 10 degrees Celsius. A Force Five storm is reported in the area with wind velocity at 23 metres per second. Taking part in the ongoing rescue effort are five vessels.

January 2006

Rescuers in the Tatar Strait today suspended the search for three missing seamen from sunken fishing Zenei Maru because of the stormy sea and the icing of their vessels. The Vladivostok rescue center reported that all the vessels taking part in the operation retreated to shelters. The An-26 plane that was flying over the Tatar Strait, returned to the base due to poor visibility.

February 2006 Citra Mandala Bakti (Indonesia)

Indonesian rescuers have received reports of 81 missing persons two days after passenger ro/ro Citra Mandala Bakti sank off East Nusa Tenggara province amid conflicting reports about the number of passengers, reports said today. The manifest listed less than 100 passengers and crew of the ferry that sank in the narrow strait between the provincial capital of Kupang and nearby Rote Island, some 2,000 km east of Jakarta. But two navy warships have evacuated more than 100 survivors from the sunken ferry. Reports said the number of people onboard was 160. In Jakarta, Minister of Transportation Hatta Radjasa ruled out the possibility that the ferry was overloaded when the accident happened. “The ferry can carry up to 400 people and a number of vehicles,” he told reporters. The minister said 120 survivors and two dead bodies have been evacuated from the scene.

February 2006

Eight survivors were rescued two days after overcrowded passenger ro/ro Citra Mandala Bakti sank in rough seas, but at least 20 people were still missing, a navy official said today. Several bodies washed to shore today, including that of a three-year-old girl. Two men wearing life jackets were plucked from the ocean and six people were found on a nearby island, said navy Col. Agus Susilo. The two men found in the ocean were in critical condition, he said. Their rescue brought to 121 the number of people who have survived the sinking. Susilo said at least 20 people were still believed missing, though he noted it is common for Indonesian ferries to carry far more passengers than listed on their manifests. Susilo, however, said the boat that sank Tuesday (January 31) was well-equipped, and passengers had plenty of time to put on jackets and to get into life rafts.

1.9 February 2006

The death toll from a ferry accident between Kupang and Rote in East Nusa Tenggara Tuesday night jumped to 55 on Friday with 126 survivors confirmed as local legislators lambasted the government and the ferry company. At least 45 badly decomposed bodies were found recently washed up on Kambing and Semau islands, which is the reason for the death toll increase. Only a handful of the bodies could be identified, and would be handed to their relatives for a proper burial. One of the 126 survivors, identified as Anita Juwita Pandie, was found by officers on a police boat near Semau Island. She was drifting amid highwaves and bad weather for four daysafter passenger ro/ro Citra Mandala Bakti, which may have been carrying up to 400 passengers sank on its way from Rote to Kupang at 2030 Tuesday (January 31). Frans Salem, head of the social service development bureau at the East Nusa Tenggara provincial administration, said that the government would pay all the medical bills for the survivors. “All the survivors will be exempted from the cost of their medical treatment at the hospital,” he said. John Nalle of state-owned insurance company PT Jasa Raharja’s Kupang office said that his company would pay out insurance claims to relatives of the dead, if they were actually registered on the boat’s manifest, by Rp 10 million (US$1,052) each. The survivors undergoing medical treatment would be given insurance amounting to Rp 5 million each, he said. “However, no insurance will be given to victims who are not on the manifest,” he said. Meanwhile member of the East Nusa Tenggara Legislative Council, Habel Pekaata, demanded that the government offer a satisfactory explanation on whether the ferry was certified as seaworthy or not. He also said that the consortium managing the ferry service – the Kupang port authority, state-owned port company PT Pelindo, the Ministry of Transportation and other related institutions – should be held responsible for the disaster. “Why did the manifest consist of only 82 passengers, while the number of fatalities and survivors is already up to some 200?” he queried. “Did all these unregistered passengers pay for tickets or not... or did they simply pay while aboard the ferry, ‘under the table’ to ferry officials who intended to keep the money for their own personal interest?” he inquired. “The East Nusa Tenggara Legislative Council will soon invite representatives of the consortium for a hearing,” Habel added.

February 2006 Al Salam Boccaccio 98 (Panama)

Egyptian cruise ship “Salaam 98” (? passenger ro/ro Al Salam Boccaccio 98, 11779 gt, built 1970) with 1,300 people on board has disappeared in the Red Sea off the Saudi Arabia coast, Egyptian maritime officials said today. The ship disappeared from radar screens shortly after sailing from the port of Dhuba, at 19:00, local time, yesterday, the maritime officials in Suez said. They spoke on condition of anonymity. The ship was due to have arrived at the port of Safaga at 03:00, local time, but did not, the officials added. “We lost all contact with the ship shortly after it left the Saudi port,” said one maritime official at Suez.

February 2006

Rescue teams have picked up dozens of bodies from passenger ro/ro Al Salam Boccaccio 98 that sank with some 1,300 people on board today, police sources said. Search and rescue attempts are being hampered by bad weather. There is no immediate word of the cause. The ship is classed by Registro Italiano Navale whose spokesman Mario Dogliani said its surveyors in Cairo and Dubai “are still trying to get information on what happened, but have very little yet.” He added that: “we carried out our last structural survey on the vessel in June of 2005, and an interim ISM code audit in October, and there was nothing significant to report. We also verified its stability in October, 2003.”

 ebruary 2006

Passenger ro/ro Al Salam Boccaccio 98 sailed from Dhuba Port, Saudi Arabia yesterday evening at about 18:30, local time, bound for Safaga Port, Egypt, where it was expected to arrive around 02:30 this morning. About 42 kilometres east of Safaga it disappeared from radar and sank with about 1,300 persons on board, the vast majority of whom were Egyptian citizens. No SOS or any other radar contact was made by the vessel before it sank. Rescue operations are currently being carried out by the Egyptian Navy and Air Force using helicopters to search for survivors. So far, about 100 persons have been rescued. During last night there was a strong wind at Safaga with high waves.

February 2006

The rescue operation is continuing, with helicopters, aircraft and vessels on the scene. A number of life-rafts have been dropped in the area by rescue authorities. Rescue teams have picked up dozens of bodies from the Egyptian ropax ferry that sank with some 1,300 people on board on Friday, police sources said. Search and rescue attempts are being hampered by bad weather. There is no immediate word of the cause, although speculation has so far centred on the possibility of a collision. Al Salam Boccaccio 98 (11,779 gt, built 1970) reportedly disappeared off radar screens off the Saudi coast this morning. The ship had left Duba in Saudi Arabia and was due to have arrived at Safaga in Egypt at 0300, local time, but did not, Egyptian maritime officials added. Britain has diverted a warship HMS Bulwark to the northern Red Sea and will arrive in a day-and-a-half, Alan West, Britain’s first sea lord said. It is reportedly operated by Al Salam Maritime Transport of Heliopolis, Cairo. An official of the company, Adel Shukri, told the BBC he was not aware of any SOS from the crew. Its last known position was some 100 km from Duba, and helicopters have spotted at least one lifeboat nearby. Panama-flag Al Salam Boccaccio 98 operated between 1970 and 1999 for an Italian company. The ship is classed by Registro Italiano Navale whose spokesman Mario Dogliani said its surveyors in Cairo and Dubai “are still trying to get information on what happened, but have very little yet.” He added that: “we carried out our last structural survey on the vessel in June of 2005, and an interim ISM code audit in October, and there was nothing significant to report. We also verified its stability in October, 2003 He added that the Panama-flag vessel was built in 1970 at the Italcantieri yard in Castellamare di Stabia near Naples, which is now part of Fincantieri. It is 118 m long with a beam of 23.6 m and a draught of 5.9 m. According to the BBC, a sister ship of the Al Salam Boccaccio 98 sank in the Red Sea in October after a collision. If fatalities are at the higher end of estimates, the incident could rank among the worst ever seen in a ferry disaster. It would top the death tolls suffered by the Herald of Free Enterprise (193 deaths in 1987), Scandinavian Star (158 deaths in 1990), Estonia (852 deaths in 1994) and Joola (1,863 deaths in 2002).

February 2006

A fire broke out on passenger ro/ro Al Salam Boccaccio 98 before it sank in the Red Sea with more than 1,400 people on board, mainly Egyptian workers returning from Saudi Arabia. Most of the passengers were feared lost but at least 324 made it to safety. Investigators were still working to determine the fire’s connection to the sinking, Egyptian Transport Minister Mohammed Lutfy Mansour said. He described the fire as “small” and said there was no explosion on the vessel, which went down before dawn yesterday. Nearly 140 survivors were brought to the Egyptian port of Hurghada before dawn today, the first significant group to come to shore. Many said the fire began early in the trip, between 90 minutes or two-and-a- half hours after departure, according to various accounts, but the vessel kept going and the fire burned for hours. Their accounts varied on the location of the fire, with some mentioning a storeroom or engine-room. Ahmed Elew, an Egyptian in his 20’s, said he went to the vessel’s crew to report the fire and they told him to help with the water hoses to put it out. At one point, there was an explosion, he said. When the vessel began sinking, Elew said he jumped into the water and swam for several hours. He said he saw one lifeboat overturn because it was overloaded with people. He eventually got into another lifeboat. Weather may also have been a factor in yesterday’s tragedy. There were high winds and a sandstorm overnight on Saudi Arabia’s west coast. Officials said more than 185 bodies were recovered while hundreds remained missing in the dark, chilly sea nearly 24 hours after the vessel went down. One lifeboat was sighted from a helicopter during the day bobbing in the waves with what appeared to be about a dozen or more passengers. Mansour said 324 people were rescued so far. A spokesman for President Hosni Mubarak said the ferry did not have enough lifeboats and questions were raised about the safety of the vessel, which was weighed down with 220 cars as well as the passengers. In 1991, two additional decks were added onto the ferry to expand passenger space. With mystery still swirling over the cause of the accident, Presdient Mubarak swiftly cast doubt over the seaworthiness of the vessel. “President Mubarak wants an immediate probe into the causes of the accident and guarantees that other similar vessels comply with safety regulations,” his spokesman Suleiman Awad told public television. “The speed at which the vessel sank and the fact there were not enough life-rafts on board confirm that there was a (safety) problem but we cannot anticipate the results of the investigation,” he said. Andrea Odone, from the operations department of the Al Salam Maritime Transport company’s Cairo headquarters, said that the vessel complied with all regulations governing seaworthiness. “It met all the safety requirements, and it fully complies with international safety rules,” he said. The ferry was carrying 1,200 Egyptian and 112 other passengers as well as 96 crewmembers, said the head of Al-Salaam Maritime Transport Company, Mamdouh Ismail. The passengers included 99 Saudis, three Syrians, two Sudanese, and a Canadian, officials said.

February 2006

Hopes of finding the nearly 900 missing after the sinking of passenger ro/ro Al Salam Boccaccio 98 faded today as the search entered a second day. Rescuers have found at least 185 bodies and pulled 314 survivors from the sea where the vessel sank on its journey to Safaga from Dubah in Saudi Arabia yesterday. General Mahfouz Taha, head of the Red Sea Ports Authority, said rescue efforts would continue, but a source said hopes were fading. “There aren’t expected to be many survivors, because it’s been so long since the vessel sank,” he said. Officials said survivors had been kept on rescue vessels and some would be transferred to hospitals. It was initially reported that poor weather was the likely cause behind the sinking of the vessel but Egypt’s presidential spokesman suggested there could have been problems with the vessel. However, an official said the Saudi authorities had confirmed everything was in order when the vessel sailed. One expert said it had a loading mechanism for vehicles that could have let in water. Egypt’s MENA news agency said the passenger list included 1,158 Egyptians, 99 Saudis, six Syrians, four Palestinians, a Canadian, a Yemeni, an Omani, a Sudanese and one person from the UAE. The survivors had a different tale to tell. They said a fire broke out on the ferry at least three hours before it sank. “Two hours after our departure (from Dubah) thick smoke started coming out of the engines,” 34-year-old Egyptian Raafat Al-Sayyed said. He said the crew told the passengers to go up onto the bridge so they could extinguish the blaze. “But the fire continued for a long time, and they kept on saying that they were getting it under control,” said Kamel Mohammad Abdel Askari, 48, another Egyptian. The survivors added the ferry continued sailing before suddenly going down in less than ten minutes.

February 2006

Rescuers pulled more survivors from the Red Sea today from passenger ro/ro Al Salam Boccaccio 98 which caught fire and sank on Friday (February 3) but hundreds of people remain missing after one of Egypt’s worst marine disasters. At Safaga port, where the ferry would have docked, there were scenes of anger and frustration as hundreds of relatives awaited news of their loved ones, some for the third day. Hospitalised survivors mourned relatives they feared had died waiting to be plucked from the sea by rescuers. Giving the most authoritative account yet of what happened, an officer from the Al Salam Boccaccio 98 said the car deck on the ferry had flooded early on Friday as the crew battled a fire, causing the listing which eventually took the vessel down. Preliminary figures showed rescuers had pulled 387 survivors from the sea and found 135 bodies so far, cabinet spokesman Magdi Radi said. Radi added there were a total of 1,414 people on the ferry, which sank after leaving the Saudi port of Duba late on Thursday en route for Safaga. Rescue officials in Safaga earlier indicated that there were around 460 survivors and 195 bodies. The Egyptian state news agency MENA and rescue officials said about 70 survivors had been found since last night. Authorities deployed more riot police at the port after clashes yesterday between police and angry relatives, who also complained of insensitive treatment by police officers.

February 2006

The total persons rescued from passenger ro/ro Al Salam Boccaccio 98 up to 1,200, February 5, is 390. The Saudi Air Force rescued 25 passengers who arrived at Cairo airport this morning, therefore, the total number of persons rescued as at 1200, February 5, is 415. The Master is missing. From testimony of some of the rescued passengers, a fire started in the garage where the trucks and other vehicles were loaded/stowed shortly after the vessel had left Dhuba Port, Saudi Arabia. The crew were unable to fight/extinguish the flames and they and the passengers implored the Master to return to Dhuba Port. The Master apparently refused and pursued his course towards Safaga Port, Egypt. All causes of the tragedy are now under investigation.

February 2006

An officer from passenger ro/ro Al Salam Boccaccio 98 said that the car deck had flooded as the crew battled a fire. Rani Kamal, third officer on the ship, told Al Arabiya from a Saudi hospital that the car deck had flooded during the fire-fighting operation, making the ship list. Government officials said earlier that the blaze began in a vehicle. “The ferry sank due to fire-fighting operations. Water flooded the garage (car deck), which is where the fire started, and it pooled on one side,” he said. “Then the water increased and increased until the ship listed sharply. It listed five, then 10 degrees and then 15 and then 25 degrees and that was the beginning of the end,” added Kamal, who was rescued from a dinghy by Saudi coastguards. He did not explain further. Passengers have also reported both a fire below decks and serious listing. The captain of the ship, Sayed Omar, is unaccounted for. The second officer, who has been rescued, has spoken to the authorities but not to the media.

February 2006

Shipowners’ protection and indemnity mutuals may face a $26 m bill in compensation for families of the victims of the passenger ro/ro Al Salam Boccaccio 98 disaster. Egyptian company El Salam Transport has offered a payment of £150,000 ($26,165) per deceased person. The figure reflects the limit under Egyptian law. Cover for that, after a small deductible, is with El Salam’s P&I club, Steamship Mutual, which as a member of the International Group of P&I Clubs has a $6m per incident cap on claims. If there are 1,000 fatalities, as feared, total payout would be more than $26 m, but everything above $6 m would be shared through the Group pooling system. The system reflects the concept of sharing risk, and Steamship would of course be among those shouldering the pool responsibility. Clubs have been worried about the number of large claims spilling into the pooling system, although the latest case would be lower than some of the heavy claims landing in 2004. There have been proposals to increase the individual club retention, although this will only be done from February 2007 at the earliest. In a statement, Steamship said it was supporting the owner in investigating the cause of the casualty and in making arrangements to ensure “efficient and proper payment of compensation to the victims and their families under Egyptian law”. According to the El Salam Transport web site on February 7, the latest count of survivors was 424. The master of a ship which heard calls for help after the ferry sank in the Red Sea last week said he did not respond because he feared his own passenger ship could sink if he turned back in bad weather. Egyptian officials have been investigating reports that Saint Catherine, a 11,177 gt ferry owned by the same company, failed to respond to calls for assistance. “I took the decision not to return to protect 1,800 passengers who were with me on the Saint Catherine for fear of capsizing the ferry while turning,” Captain Salah Gomaa told the state-owned daily al-Ahram in remarks published yesterday. He said bad weather, including high waves and winds, prompted him not to respond to the call for assistance from Al Salam Boccaccio 98s second officer, who informed him from a lifeboat that the ship had sunk. “It is possible there could have been two disasters and Saint Catherine would also have been capsized,” he said, adding that he sent out a call for help to other ships in the area. The Saudi authorities refused to allow passengers to board another Egyptian ferry, Al Salam 94, yesterday as the vessel was deemed unsafe. An Egyptian port official said Al Salam 94 was owned by the same shipping firm, Reuters reports. Company officials could not be reached for comment. “The ferry arrived in (the Saudi port of) Duba around midnight on Monday. “We made our checks and found it was in a bad state. It was old,” a port official in Jeddah said, adding that the ship returned to the port of Suez in Egypt.

February 2006

Doomed Red Sea passenger ro/ro Al Salam Boccaccio 98 had life-saving equipment for about three times the number passengers it had on board on the night it sank, according to records and certificates. Panama Shipping Register, the company that issued the passenger safety certificate for the ship told Lloyd’s List yesterday that there was no shortage of life-saving equipment on the vessel when it carried out its last inspection of the vessel in September 2005. Abdiel Diaz, Panama Shipping Register’s managing director added that with 1,400 passengers onboard, the vessel would not have been overloaded. “The capacity it has, according to our paperwork, was for 1,465 passengers and 80 crew,” he told Lloyd’s List. The vessel, he said, had exemptions as a result of the relatively short nature of the voyage but nonetheless it was equipped with two life-saving appliances for each passenger. According to the company’s last inspection, carried out in September 2005 by a surveyor in Cairo, there were 3,050 life jackets, ten lifeboats capable of handling a total of 890 passengers each and 88 inflatable liferafts, able to hold up to 25 passengers each. The total capacity of the life rafts and lifeboats he said was 3,090. Dialogue between the ferry’s owner, El Salam Maritime Transport Co and its protection and indemnity insurer, Steamship Mutual, broadly backed up Panama Shipping Register’s figures. This showed that appliances included ten lifeboats with capacity for a total of 890 people, and 88 life-rafts which could accommodate 2,200. It also showed there were six pieces of buoyant apparatus able to hold 72 people, and lifejackets for 3,070 people. The ship had about 1,400 passengers, of whom only about 376 survived. Detailing the lifesaving equipment, the club stressed it should be borne in mind that in the event of a significant list or rapid capsize, the ability to access and use equipment might have been impaired. Steamship has insured vessels of the owner’s fleet since 1996. On the information available to the club, the vessel was fully compliant with laws and regulations in the countries in which it operated and those currently applying in the European Union, where the ship operated until acquisition by El Salam in 1999. During its period of operation in EU waters, the ship underwent modifications to add passenger capacity, in accordance with the requirements of the classification society Rina, said a club statement. Rina verified the stability of the ship in October 2003, and there was an interim ISM Code audit in October 2005. Steamship said it required ship-owner members to operate vessels in full compliance with international and national standards. To promote adherence to these conditions, the club routinely arranged inspections and surveys of vessels. Al Salam Boccaccio 98 was last inspected early in 2005 and that inspection established that the vessel complied with all requirements concerning safety equipment, that management and training was entirely satisfactory and that the owners had properly carried out and completed all necessary maintenance.

February 2006

Panama, the flag state of passenger ro/ro Al Salam Boccaccio 98, has sent an investigator to Egypt to begin the investigation into the causes of the ferry tragedy that claimed up to a 1,000 lives last week. The Panama Maritime Authority, the body that oversees the world’s largest ship register, has responded to the disaster by appointing Alfonso Castillero, the deputy director of the merchant marine section, as the head of PMA’s Board of Investigation of Serious Casualties. “This is a very serious case and we are very, very sorry for the massive loss of life. We hope to arrange things so that we can learn from this tragic accident,” said Mr Castillero. He said the PMA had sent the head of the PMA investigations department, Reynaldo Garibaldi, to Egypt to act as principal investigator into the causes of the disaster. Early reports from survivors indicate there was a fire on board the vessel before it sank on its way from Saudi Arabia to Egypt last Friday, but Mr Castillero said little detail had reached Panama on what may have caused the sinking. Mr Reynaldo met with the operator of the ship, El-Salam Maritime Transport Company, on Monday and was due to meet the Egyptian minister of transport on Tuesday. The first priority, said Mr Castillero, was to determine who would lead the investigation. It was still too early to say what may have caused the accident. As the flag state of the ferry, Panama is co-operating with Egyptian officials to undertake a full investigation into the tragedy. Its findings will be presented to the International Maritime Organization. The legal representative for the ship in Panama, Morgan & Morgan, said they had not heard from the owners in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. Pacific Sunlight Marine Inc, a company registered in Panama for the purpose of registration, is the official owner of the vessel.

February n2006

Brussels has asked Italian classification society Rina for copies of all certification provided for passenger ro/ro Al Salam Boccaccio 98, which sank in the Red Sea last week. The European Commission, acting through the European Maritime Safety Agency, contacted Rina early this week as part of its investigation into the cause of the disaster, in which more than 1,000 people died. “We have written to Rina requesting details of certification provided by the company itself and on behalf of Panama, the flag state,” said Stefaan de Rynck, commission transport spokesman. “I would like to underline that this is standard procedure and Rina is not itself under investigation.” The Genoa-based company, which is involved in legal action in France dating back to the Erika oil spill tragedy, moved fast after the Red Sea incident to state that it would co-operate fully with any inquiry. Chief Executive Ugo Salerno, said: “Our office in Egypt is ready to co-operate fully with the Egyptian and flag state authorities, should they ask for Rina’s technical contribution to the investigation. We are fully at the disposal of all interested parties.” Al Salam Boccaccio 98 was classed with Rina, which issued statutory certificates on behalf of Panama. These certificates were: – Full Term International Load Line (expiry date March 31 2008); Full Term International Oil Pollution Prevention (expiry date March 31 2008); – Interim Safety Management Certificate (expiry date 26 April 2006); – Interim International Ship Security Certificate (expiry date 26 April 2006). “It is understood that all other statutory certificates, including the Passenger Safety Certificate, were issued by the Panama flag state,” Rina said in its statement. The ill-fated vessel was modified in 1990 and 1991, adding three superstructure decks “in compliance with international standards”, Rina added. The most recent annual survey carried out on the vessel was completed on June 30 2005 and the most recent class renewal survey was completed on June 29 2003. The vessel’s last dry-dock survey was completed on June 13 2004. It complied with Solas 90 stability standards, based on calculations and tests carried out by Rina in 2003. “We are in touch with the commission and are providing them with our information as is normal for a recognised organisation,” said Rina’s Mario Dogliani. Separately, Brussels is seeking to extend its control over classification societies through new legislation. As part of its third package of maritime legislation now under discussion at “expert” level the commission proposes creating a body to oversee societies and powers to fine them up to 10 per cent of gross turnover for poor performance. EU officials met industry representatives to discuss the proposals last month. Reports show the industry thought any new body would be “costly and counterproductive”. EMSA should be used instead, it argued.

February 2006

Technical assistance and a number of experts are to be provided by the International Maritime Organization to help investigate the circumstances of the loss last week of passenger ro/ro Al Salam Boccaccio 98 in which more than 1,000 people are believed to have died. IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos returned to London from Egypt yesterday. In meetings with the Egyptian Prime Minister and Minister of Transport, he had conveyed the sympathy and solidarity of the IMO, along with strong moral support to the relatives of the victims. While a joint casualty investigation has been launched under the leadership of Egypt, with the assistance of the Panamanian flag state, which has already dispatched two investigators to Egypt, Mr Mitropoulos stressed the importance of a thorough, prompt and transparent inquiry and offered the assistance of IMO technical experts to help in this respect. Terms of reference are being finalised at the IMO for the appointment of accident inspector Mike Travis from the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch and Jean-Charles Leclaire from the French marine investigation department. Mr Travis has special expertise in the interpretation of Vessel Data Recorders, while Mr Leclaire participated in the inquiry into the loss of the Senegalese ferry Joola with huge loss of life in 2002. The Egyptian government has also welcomed technical support from the IMO in the development of crisis management and emergency systems, and the former chairman of the IMO Marine Safety Committee Tom Allan, who recently retired from the UK Marine Safety Agency as the UK’s permanent IMO representative, will undertake this role. During his visit to Egypt, Mr Mitropoulos also paid tribute to those involved in the search and rescue operations following the disaster, and expressed his condolences to the bereaved.

February 2006

The Ministry of Interior of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia said the Saudi search and rescue team, an affiliate of the air forces and civil defence, has staged several flight aerial and sea survey of the area of the incident looking for survivors of passenger ro/ro Al Salam Boccaccio 98 which sank in the Red Sea last week, drowning to death hundreds of passengers and crew on it, but found no survivors. However, the team was able to pick up six more bodies, bringing to 245 the total number of bodies picked since the beginning of the ordeal to date and handed over to the Egyptian side. In a statement, the Ministry said three bodies belonging to Saudi nationals were recognized in co-ordination with those in charge at the Saudi embassy in Cairo, bringing to 16 the number of those recognized on the Saudi side of victims. The number of bodies remained anonymous amounted to 40 Saudis, the statement added. One Saudi survivor, who was among the previously-announced list of survivors, arrived at King Abdulaziz International Airport on-board a Saudi airlines flight, the Ministry said, adding that four bodies, accompanied by their first of kin, have been transported to Saudi airports of Jeddah, Madinah and Riyadh. The Ministry said two of the three Saudi survivors, who were earlier rushed to Jeddah-based King Faisal Specialist Hospital, were discharged last Wednesday while the third was still receiving health care.

February 2006

On his return from a one-day trip to Cairo in the aftermath of the tragic loss of passenger ro/ro Al Salam Boccaccio 98, IMO Secretary General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos explained the purpose of his mission as follows: “first, to demonstrate the solidarity and compassion of the IMO membership to the people and Government of Egypt and those of other nations affected, in particular to the families, friends and colleagues of the victims of the tragic accident, and to provide moral support at the heavy loss of life suffered; and, secondly, to assist the investigation of the accident by facilitating the provision, through IMO’s technical co-operation programme, of independent technical expertise and advice.” Mitropoulos added that this assistance was intended to ensure that the outcome of the investigation would not only identify, beyond any doubt, what caused the accident, but would also identify what lessons, if any, might be learnt so that, through the IMO system, prompt and expeditious action was taken to prevent similar accidents happening in the future. During the visit, Mitropoulos met, inter alia, with the Prime Minister of Egypt, Dr Ahmed Nazif, and the Egyptian Transport Minister, Mr. Mohamed Mansour, and other officials as well as the Panamanian Ambassador to Egypt, Jorge RamÛn ValdÈs Charris and the Panamanian experts nominated to assist in the investigation. Mitropoulos expressed his appreciation to the Government of Egypt and the Government of Panama, as the flag State, for their co-operation with IMO and their willingness to co-operate with each other and any other Government with a substantial interest in the case, in the joint casualty investigation.

February 2006

Failures within both the private sector and government agencies were to blame for the deaths of some 1,000 people in the sinking of passenger ro/ro Al Salam Boccaccio 98 on February 3, according to a report by a leading human rights group. “National institutions failed to adequately deal with the sinking of the vessel,” states an initial 46-page report released by the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) on February 14. “This tragedy illustrates how far the level of service in all sectors, without exception, has fallen,” the report adds. According to EOHR Chairman Hisham Kassem, the accident was the result of “major infrastructural deficiencies.” The report points specifically to several culprits. The private company that owned the doomed vessel, for example, “lost the opportunity to deal quickly with the crisis” after “being alerted to the sinking … by the master of the (nearby) ferry Saint Catherine,” which led to a delay in search and rescue efforts. The performance of the government media apparatus, meanwhile, was marked by uncertainty and confusion, so while news agencies and satellite television stations had up to date news coverage, Egyptian state television was late in transmitting details of how the disaster happened, the report states. The Red Sea governorate was blamed for failing to prepare an adequate reception for the anxious families of passengers, who descended on the ports of Safaga and Hurghada in the wake of the accident. “The governorate dealt with the issue in a haphazard manner, which led to the prolonging of the families’ discomfort for three days,” the report notes. Specific government ministries also came in for criticism. “The Ministry of Interior is still deficient in dealing with civilians in an appropriate manner,” the report states. It goes on to concede, however, that “the ministry’s performance during the crisis was still better than that of other agencies.” As for the Health Ministry, the report noted the fact that local hospitals had inadequate refrigeration units to handle the bodies of incoming victims. This resulted in “some bodies waiting in ambulances in front of the hospital while waiting for places.” The report, which was issued following a fact-finding investigation to the port of Safaga concludes with a number of key recommendations. These include: The launch of a wide-ranging investigation into the recent disaster as well as previous incidents; the formation of a team of experts to confirm the seaworthiness of the nation’s passenger ferries; and amendments to legislation on the legal passenger capacity of such vessels. While the state prosecutor announced that a government-led investigation would be undertaken shortly after the accident, few details have emerged. “The official investigation into the causes of the sinking of the vessel has yet to make its findings public, leading to a spate of speculation and rumour,” the state press reported on February 9. In the past, similar incidents were never satisfactorily prosecuted, the EOHR report notes.

February 2006 Citra Mandala Bakti (Indonesia)

An inter-island ferry (?passenger ro/ro Citra Mandala Bakti, 321 gt, built 1972) carrying nearly 140 people on board sank in rough waters in eastern Indonesia, leaving dozens missing and feared drowned, officials said today. The accident took place yesterday evening when the vessel was caught in heavy seas en route to the eastern island of Rote from Kupang, the provincial capital of East Nusa Tenggara province, said Syamsir Siahaan, an official at Kupang’s port. “The ferry was carrying 115 passengers and 23 crew members when it sank at about 1930 hrs Tuesday,” Siahaan told Deutsche Presse-Agentur. Three navy vessels and an air force plane were scouring the area close to where the vessel was suspected to have sunk, said naval spokesman Rear Adm. Yusuf Malik. Yusuf, however, said that the vessel’s manifest showed it was carrying 82 passengers and crew, but that it was possible that more people were on board. The ferry was hit by huge waves while travelling from Kupang, about 1,900 kilometres east of Jakarta on Indonesia’s side of Timor island, to nearby Rote Island, he said. Siahaan said rescue workers, backed by Navy ships and helicopters, intensified their search for people still missing and feared drowned in the rough sea waters. In addition to carrying passengers, the vessel was also carrying a number of cars and trucks that were lost, he said. Meanwhile, AP reported that Navy vessels picked up more than 74 survivors. The ferry contacted Kupang port around two hours after leaving land to say it was turning back because of bad weather, he said. “The report said waves were up to three metres (ten feet) high,” he said.

February 2006

Rescuers were still searching for at least 47 people believed to have been on board. A navy spokesman in Jakarta said the ship’s manifest showed it was carrying 82 passengers and crew, but a port official in Kupang on the western side of Timor island said there were more than 160 people on board when it left the harbour. “So far, 113 people have been rescued alive,” said Kupang port official Sinta. “Rescuers are still searching for at least another 47 people.” Many passengers apparently had time to put on lifejackets and board life rafts before the ferry sank, said Samsir Siahaan, port chief in Kupang, where the ferry originated. The ferry was travelling from Kupang to Rote Island, a trip that normally takes around four hours.

February 2006

Naval vessels picked up 114 survivors from passenger ro/ro Citra Mandala Bakti that went down in rough seas in eastern Indonesia, but there was no sign late today of dozens of others still missing, rescuers said. By nightfall, 114 survivors had arrived at the port, an official said. Around 45 others believed to have been on board had yet to be accounted for, she said. There was no sign of any more survivors when the rescue effort was called off for the night at dusk today. Rescue operations were to recommence at dawn tomorrow. Citra Mandala Bahari was carrying far more people than listed on its manifest.