Fears rise with reports of Bangladeshi engineer killed in rocket attack
Fears continue to grow for ships caught in the fighting in Ukraine with additional reports of ships being attacked or arrested in the region. According to unconfirmed reports this morning from Bangladesh, one of its sailors was killed in the latest Russian missile attack on a commercial vessel.
The bulk carrier Banglar Samriddhi, a Bangladeshi-registered four-year-old bulk carrier was reported stranded off the port of Olvia, located in the Mykolaiv region on the left bank of the Dnipro-Bug estuary on the northern Black Sea coast. The 38,800 dwt vessel said it had a crew of 29 with supplies to last no more than two weeks. After the war began, the crew reported that they were stranded when Ukraine closed its seaports, but there was no fighting in the immediate area. They called on the Bangladeshi government to take necessary action to rescue them while the Bangladesh Shipping Corporation said its charter service was working to move the vessel to a safe location.
The Ukrainian Seaports Authority reports that the ship was hit earlier in the day by a Russian missile hitting the ship’s superstructure. Ukrainian authorities said two tugs had been sent to assist the vessel and they believed there were no injuries to the crew.
A Bangladeshi newspaper, The Business Standard, however, quotes a sailor aboard the ship as saying the ship’s third engineer was killed in the attack. The report says the crew was able to control the fire after the vessel was hit and the other crew members were not injured.
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International organizations have tried to help the ships’ crews while Ukraine and members of the European Union are calling on the International Maritime Organization to take action to help vessels captured in Ukrainian ports. The IMO has yet to respond to calls, but at the start of the Russian attack, IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim issued a statement that read, among other things, “The security situation in Ukraine is impacting maritime trade. The safety of maritime personnel, including seafarers, is vital. I urge all parties to take action to ensure the protection of seafarers, vessels and cargo. IMO will continue to assess the evolving security situation.
Security analysts Dryad Global report that three other ships had already been attacked by Russian missiles or bombs in the past week. A die incidents allegedly set fire to a small product tanker, but there were no confirmed fatalities in previous attacks. One of the ships hit by a missile, the Japanese bulk carrier Queen of Namura left the Odessa region after last Friday’s attack and arrived safely in eastern Turkey for repairs. The ship was loading corn near Odessa when the war started. Dryad also reports that three other commercial ships were detained by the Russians.
British charity Stella Maris is one of the organizations seeking to help seafarers. The charity reports that its chaplains and ship visitors are working to support all seafarers during the current crisis. They provided support to Ukrainian and Russian seafarers and seafarers whose ships had to navigate in conflict-affected areas, including providing seafarers with free phone cards and data SIM cards.
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