Buchanan, Grand Bassa County – Authorities at the Buchanan Port Authority have confirmed that two persons have died while working on a ship believed to be a Pilipino ship named “Vega Granat”.
The death of the two people, which is being speculated as a result of a chemical accident, halted regular working activities at the second largest port in Liberia on Tuesday, July 4, 2017.
According to reports, the first victim, identified as Emmanuel Smith, was ordered to open the hatch of the ship by a crew member who is yet to be identified. Smith, who was not cautioned that the hatch was sprayed with a chemical, dropped and started calling for help after opening the hatch and according to eyewitnesses his screaming prompted George Freeman to his aide but he too was also affected by the chemical.
Patrick M. Konneh, Buchanan Port Manger said he was “shocked” when he received a call from a worker informing him that two persons were involved in an accident.
Mr. Konneh said George Freeman and Emmanuel Smith were already dead before they were rushed to the Liberian Government Hospital, where they were officially pronounced dead by doctors.
He said an investigation is ongoing by the Liberia National Police to establish the actual cause of death of the two men. The investigation will also establish who instructed the two men to enter the hatch of the ship which was sprayed with the chemical.
The vessel, Vega Granat is a bulk carrier built in 2011 currently sailing under the flag of Liberia. It has 177m length overall and beam of 28m with a gross tonnage of 19994 tons.By-passers speculated and blamed the deaths on the ship crew. They assert that the crew ignores basic safety regulations.
By-passers speculated and blamed the deaths on the ship crew. They assert that the crew ignores basic safety regulations. At the same time, the families of the victims are expressing grave disappointed incident.
At the same time, the families of the victims are expressing grave disappointed incident.
They alleged that the port of Buchanan lacks “good” safety measures which they believe are factors that led to the death of their family members.
The Port of Buchanan is located about 272km from Monrovia and is the second largest of the four ports under the National Port Authority.
Built between 1963 and 1964 to facilitate the shipment of iron ore and mining operations of the then LAMCO, it is the main seaport use by steel company ArcelolMittal for the shipment of iron ore out of the country. Many logging companies also use the port to for shipment creating sufficient demand for the commercial quay.
Currently, the port has four berths, with a total area of 16,407 acres, comprising a land area of 15,552.50 acres and an offshore area of 854.50 acres.
Report By: Elton Wroinbee Tiah
Editor’s Note: This story was also published in FrontPage Africa newspaper.