Seven sailors die as ship capsizes off Yemen’s coast [Archives:2006/962/Local News]

July 10 2006

SANA'A, July 9 ) A freight ship sank off the coast of the Yemeni island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean due to bad weather, killing seven crew members. At least 13 crew members were rescued, but one later died in an Aden hospital, government officials said. Six sailors drowned in the sinking.

The ship, 'Meryam 4', sank on Wednesday night while it was on its way to Zanzibar in Tanzania from the Omani port of Salalah, with its nineteen crew members. The ship was owned by al-Hufuf Maritime Co, which is based in the United Arab Emirates, but it sailed under the flag of Panama, according to media reports.

Khaleej Times reported from reliable sources that the crew members were from India, Sri Lanka, Burma and Somalia. Whereas the Associated Press website reported that the seven dead sailors included individuals from Tanzania, Borneo, Somalia and four from India.

Yemen's official news agency, Saba, reported that that the vessel was carrying a cargo of around 5,000 tones of Omani cement from Salalah to Zanzibar, when it drifted off course in bad weather near to Socotra island, which lies about 170 miles (270 kilometers) east of the Yemeni port of Aden. Strong winds hit Socotra in July and August each year, with speeds sometimes reaching 13 to 18 kilometers an hour. Such weather often results in the movement of ships being stopped in that area. Saba stated that “Yemeni coast guard vessels and other foreign ships rescued the survivors and retrieved bodies from the water”.

Khaleej Times said that after getting a distress call from the vessel, Yemeni coast guard boats were dispatched to the scene. The body of a sailor was recovered early the next morning, and naval ships patrolling the area as part of a US-led anti-terrorism mission, pulled five other bodies from the water that afternoon. The rescued crew members were admitted to a hospital in Aden.