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Gas leak on MV Orion II: Vessel owner booked for death of four crew members

“The crew of the Thor Endevour had sprayed a fumigant as it was carrying a cargo of wheat. Some of this gas appears to have entered the ballast water tank of the barge and knocked out the crew."

Written by Srinath Rao | Mumbai |
October 30, 2017 3:00:04 am
gas leak, mumbai vessel gas leak, orion 2 gas leak, mumbai police, mmbai ship gas leak, Maharashtra Maritime Board, MV Thor Endevour The Malabar Hill police station had registered a case of accidental death even as the MMB launched an inquiry into the incident.  (Representational image)

The Mumbai Police booked the owner of a barge Sunday for causing the death of four crew members eight months ago after they inhaled toxic gases on board the vessel.

An FIR was registered against the owner of the vessel after an inquiry by the Maharashtra Maritime Board. The incident had taken place on MV Orion II on February 11, when the vessel was secured alongside a Singaporean bulk carrier MV Thor Endevour, 5.4 nautical milles from Malabar Hill. The crew of the Thor Endevour was unloading a cargo of wheat onto the barge at the time.

According to the police, a crew member on the barge went into the ballast water tank to pump out water, a regular procedure. However, when he did not return several minutes later, three other crew members went into the tank looking for him and fell unconscious. The vessel’s master, Mohammad Daud Ibrahim Kurey, also fell unconscious when he went to the tank to locate his crew.

At 10.40 pm, the crew of the Thor Endevour sent out a distress signal after noticing that the barge’s crew had been incapacitated. After an operation lasting several hours, the five men were removed from the tank by the Coast Guard and taken to Bombay Hospital, where Kurey (50) and crew members Mangesh Bhosale (27), Jayanta Chaudhary (23) and Kritik Son Koch (27), passed away.

The Malabar Hill police station had registered a case of accidental death even as the MMB launched an inquiry into the incident. Last month, the MMB submitted its findings to the police, on the basis of which the barge’s owner, Mumbai-based shipping firm M/S Shree Krishna Agencies, was booked for causing death due to negligence. “We have registered a case on the basis of the report. The owner did not provide any safety equipment to the crew,” said Dyaneshwar Chavan, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone II.

A senior MMB official said investigators had found that a gas had leaked into the barge from the Thor Endevour. “The crew of the Thor Endevour had sprayed a fumigant as it was carrying a cargo of wheat. Some of this gas appears to have entered the ballast water tank of the barge and knocked out the crew. Emptying water from the ballast water tank is a regular procedure and the crew must not have anticipated that a toxic gas would be present inside,” said the official.

In March, the MMB had issued a circular to vessel owners outlining a set of measures to be implemented to avoid a similar mishap. According to the circular, vessel owners are required to ensure that there is proper ventilation in the enclosed tanks and ascertain that there is sufficient oxygen and no poisonous gases are present before the entry of a crew member. Vessels are required to carry gas detecting equipment to be used before entering enclosed spaces, while tanks also need to be regularly inspected, the circular states.

srinath.rao@expressindia.com

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