More than seven people have gone missing and are feared to have died after a cargo ship allegedly being used for the unauthorised transport of passengers was lost off Liberia on Saturday, July 17.
The incident began in the afternoon (local time) of Saturday when the Liberian-flagged Niko Ivanka suffered water ingress while underway off the town of Marshall in Margibi County in the country’s south-east.
After receiving a distress call from the crew, the Liberian Coast Guard instructed all nearby vessels to divert to the area to render assistance. However, it took several more hours before any responding vessels were able to reach the area due to rough sea conditions and low visibility.
The crew of a Good Samaritan vessel that arrived on-scene at around 23:00 soon found and rescued six adrift survivors.
The survivors said that Niko Ivanka had sunk and that they had been drifting in the water for nine hours before they were finally rescued.
Another six survivors were pulled from the water as the search and rescue (SAR) operation extended into Sunday, July 18.
The SAR effort is now concentrated on locating at least seven other people who were on the cargo ship when it sank.
Accounts vary as to the actual number of people who were on board as some survivors have stated that there were more passengers than what was written on the manifest.
Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) Commissioner-General Eugene Lenn Nagbe has told local media that Niko Ivanka had sailed out despite being under a detention order for its owners’ failure to satisfy safety requirements.
Mr Nagbe added that, even prior to the detention order being issued on the vessel and its owners, it was at no time authorised to carry passengers.
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