Eleven persons have been rescued after a vessel sank off the coast of Liberia on Saturday.
Among those rescued are about 10 men, one woman. Nine of them including seven crewmen are Liberians, one Chinese, and one Syrian. Six were rescued on Saturday, July 17, while the remaining were rescued on Sunday, July 18.
The vessel named NIKO IVANKA, which sunk on the waters in Maryland County was carrying about 21 passengers, including nine workers of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) when it was reported to be in distress and later sunk.
The vessel is reported to have been in deplorable condition and had been grounded and prevented from sailing on the Liberian waters.
Addressing a news conference at the Coast Guard Base on the Bushrod Island, outside Monrovia, the Commissioner General of the Liberian Maritme Association LiMA, Eugene Nagbe, disclosed that an investigation will help unearth how a “detention order” on the sinking vessel was lifted and by whom.
“The Liberia Maritime Authority wishes to state that the subject vessel was detained and not allowed to sail. Also, the vessel was at no time authorized or permitted to carry passengers or operate as a passenger’s vessel”- the Maritime Association boss said.
“The Maritime Authority and all of the relevant entities, including the Ministry of Justice, are commissioning an investigation to how a vessel that was detained because of its failure to meet the necessary requirements managed to get on the sea with passengers and cargo. We issued a letter and said don’t move; how did it move? We will determine that very shortly”, Nagbe added.
The vessel’s owner, a Chinese national, was arrested on Sunday afternoon and is now in police custody, according to reports.
The search continued on Sunday afternoon as teams from Liberia’s coast guard scoped nearby shores and riverbanks in collaboration with a ship from anti-whaling organization Sea Shepherd.
The ship’s manifest showed 18 people on board at the time of departure but authorities suspect that more could have been on board, given that the vessel was not licensed to carry passengers in the first place, Liberia’s deputy information minister Jarlaywah Tonpoe said.
Among those listed on the manifest was a Swedish captain.