The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has confirmed launch of an investigation into the incident of a vessel that caught on fire in Durban on Thursday and in which there were several casualties.
SAMSA confirmed that six (6) people had died during the fire incident on board the vessel.
SAMSA said the fishing vessel known as the TROPICAL 1 was Mozambique registered and that the agency was in the process of formally making contact with the Mozambican authorities to inform them about the incident.
According to SAMSA, the fishing vessel was docked at the Durban harbour for repair work when it caught on fire. The cause of the fire had not been established yet.
SAMSA said on Friday that bodies of the deceased crew had been retrieved and placed at a mortuary in Durban. Five of the deceased were Mozambican nationals while a sixth crew member was of Portuguese origin.
SAMSA said 12 other crew members were being attended to and that a SAMSA team was scheduled to meet them for a statement at about lunchtime on Friday.
SAMSA further said actual inspection of the vessel with the view to determining the cause of the fire would be undertaken as soon conditions allowed.
Mozambican authorities had already been verbally briefed via telephone, with a full report due to follow soon.
Meanwhile, photographs taken of the rescue effort on Thursday reflect on the ferocity of the fire and which led to the vessel listing on the port side.
Firefighters are seen doing to their best to save the vessel from complete destruction.
A group of South Africans sailing the Indian Ocean parallel the coastline of Mozambique are counting their lucky stars after their yacht ran into difficulties on Thursday morning and sank shortly after they were rescued.
The incident involving the yacht named ‘Kinda Magic’ with four occupants on board was confirmed by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) in Cape Town, which picked up a distress signal from the yacht early on Thursday morning and immediately scrambled a rescue effort through calls to vessels sailing in the vicinity.
In a report on Thursday, the MRCC said four occupants of the yacht – all South African but whose personal identities are known but yet to be officially released – were soon plucked from their life raft by a passing oil/chemical tanker, the Panama registered MT Mersini, after they had abandoned the yacht; and are currently en route to the Comores.
According to ship tracking website, maritimetraffic.com, the MT Mersini, owned by the Mersini Shipping Company, was sailing from Durban on its way to the Jebel Ali port in the United Arab Emirates.
In Cape Town on Thursday, the MRCC said the centre had picked up a distress call from the South African yacht, ‘Kinda Magic’, at approximately 06:50 on Thursday morning while the yacht was sailing the Indian Ocean, some 215 km off the coast of Ilha Do Fogo and approximately 175 km directly from shore in the Mozambique channel.
“The distress notification was received by means of an EPIRB (a vessel distress beacon) activation and relayed by means of the COSPAS-SARSAT Systems (the Satellite Search and Rescue system which is part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System).
“MRCC Cape Town immediately responded to the distress notification, with further investigation indicating that the yacht was in the process of sinking. After identifying vessels that might be diverted to assist, the vessel “MT MERSINI” was contacted through Maritime Radio, based in Cape Town, and requested to divert course to the assistance of the distressed yacht.
“The vessel’s Master complied with the request and also confirmed the nature of distress as it was also received on VHF radio transmission. The vessel arrived on-scene at 08:43 local time on 16 November 2017 and all four of the crew were rescued. It was reported that they were all in good health and had sustained no injuries.
“The rescue vessel, the “MT MERSINI”, is currently en-route to port of Moroni, in Comores. The yacht sank. All emergency broadcasts, as was issued by MRCC through Maritime Radio, were cancelled.”
The Western Cape based rescue coordination centre also confirmed that regional authorities of Mozambique, Madagascar and the Comores were alerted and informed of the incident and subsequent rescue, while the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) was also brought on board in order to facilitate the repatriation of the South African sailors.
The centre expressed appreciation for the role played by the rescue vessel. “The contribution of the “MT MERSINI” , her Captain, and crew in the saving of the South African lives is greatly appreciated. The progress of the rescue vessel, and the status of the survivors, shall be monitored until arrival at its destination,” said the centre.
***Please note that this is article has since been updated to also reflect on the health condition of the rescued sailors.
AAMA is the coordinating body for the Maritime Administrations in Africa established in terms of the African Maritime Transport Charter (AMTC), while WOMESA is an association of women established under the auspices of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) with the aim of enabling women to train in maritime and thereby acquire the high levels of competence that the maritime industry demands.
The two bodies reached an agreement during a meeting in Ethiopia in early 2016 to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will facilitate among other things; joint undertakings or close collaboration in a number of activities and initiatives aimed at strengthening the role and impact of women participation in the continent’s maritime economic sector development.
Representing AAMA on the agreement were Mr Benard Bobison-Opoku, AAMA Secretariat and Legal Counsel at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and Mr Collins Makhado, Executive Head of Centre for Industry Development also at SAMSA, representing the Chairperson of AAMA, Commander Tsietsi Mokhele; while Mrs Veronica Maina, Head of WOMESA Secretariat represented the women’s association.
The MoU, soon to be formally ratified; will enjoin the parties to among other things;
Promote general cooperation in the implementation of the broader African maritime development agenda as envisaged in the AMTC, 2050 AIM Strategy (AIM Strategy) and SADC Protocol on Transport, Communication and Meteorology;
Promote the development of skills on maritime safety, security and preservation of marine environment, under IMO, ILO and other international, continental and regional instruments;
Reciprocate access to each other’s conference platforms and avail opportunities for business to business networking and the participation of its industry constituencies. These include the transformation platforms focusing on African women in maritime, African maritime youth development, enterprise development and job creation, etc.;
Explore current mechanisms/instruments for the provision of financial support to WOMESA local Chapters seeking to engage on potential investments in the maritime sector;
Facilitate access to and availing of experts and contributors to each other’s platforms for strategic conversations; and
Provide financial and non-financial support for the realisation of the objectives of initiatives and programmes as outlined.
The agreement on the MoU was reached between the two bodies during WOMESA’s 7th Annual Conference/ Training, Annual General Meeting and Governing Council Meeting held from 22 to 26 February 2016 at the Adulala Resort & Spa at Debrezeit Babogaya, Ethiopia.
According to a recent WOMESA report on the conference, members of the association came from across 14 countries of the Eastern and Southern Africa region, participated at the event.
The countries included the Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan and Tanzania.
Issues dealt with during the gathering included:
The democratic debate on the grey shades of Maritime Women Leadership
Young women as the new driving force behind maritime and the integrated transport system
Building Africa’s blue economy: Setting common agenda at the regional level
The impact of The Impact of Increasing Vessels Size and Alliance on Port Operations
The role of emotional intelligence in career progression
Impact of gender stereotypes on advancement leadership by women.
WOMESA also conducted an elective conference that saw Mauritian, Mrs. Meenaksi Bhirugnath Bhookhun as chairman of its Governing Council and Tanzanian, Mrs. Hiacinter Burchard Rwechungura as her deputy.
The rest of the council is made up of Mrs Fatma Yusuf (Kenya) as Secretary
Ms. Liyuwork Amare Shiferaw (Ethiopia) as Treasurer, Ms Karine Rassool (Seychelles as Marketing & Communication Officer, Mrs Catherine Wairi (Kenya) and honorary member, and Mrs. Tamanda Kalilombe (Malawi) as Council Member, while Mrs Nancy Karigithu (Kenya) and Mrs Nomita Seebaluck (Mauritius) were also roped in as ‘co-opted’ Council members
Working alongside Mrs Maina as WOMESA’s Secretariat is Mrs.Rosemary Oile as the association’s Programme Director.