Lightning has killed six Ghanaian sailors and their Ukrainian captain off the Atlantic Coast of Benin.
The six are Henry Ebow Crentsil, leader of the ratings, Akontey Francis, welder,
Robert Aryee, seaman, Enoch Mark Eshun, seaman, Samuel Odai Adjetey, seaman, and Ekey Robert, steward.
The bodies of Aryee, Eshun, Adjetey and Ekey have been retrieved but
those of the Ukrainian captain, identified as Nasonov Volodymr, Crentsil and Akontey are still missing.
Twenty-two of the crew, comprising 19 Ghanaians, two Ukrainians and one Romanian,
however, survived the tragedy which occurred last Tuesday
when lightning struck the Cambodia-registered oil tanker 200
nautical miles from the coast as a result of a storm which also swept through Ghana the same day.
The 30,000-tonne oil tanker, MT North Sea, owned by Atlantic Oil Maritime S.A.,
with 29 crew members on board,
had finished offloading oil from Nigeria onto another vessel
when it was struck by the lightning.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Tema, the Harbour Master, Captain Victor Jonah,
said on Wednesday he had a distress call on the disaster
from the agent for the vessel, Atlas Services Limited.
He said a Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority tug, the Manhean,
was, therefore, sent out to rescue the sailors.
Captain Jonah said a sister vessel of the tanker, the MT April, was called to convey the survivors
and the four retrieved bodies to meet the tug which, in turn, conveyed them to the port.
He said the police were informed about the accident and the dead were conveyed to the Police Hospital,
while the 22 survivors were sent to the Caiquo Hospital in Tema for medical attention.
Captain Jonah said the Ukrainian and Romanian survivors had been put in some hotels in Tema,
awaiting documentation to be flown home,
while the 19 Ghanaian survivors had also been given accommodation to
overcome the trauma before they would be sent home.
The Port Captain of Atlas Services Limited, Captain Seth Aboagye,
who called at the offices of the Daily Graphic in Accra, confirmed the incident.
According to him, the parent company of Atlantic Services Limited,
known as Atlantic Oil Maritime S.A. based in Greece,
received a distress message from Lloyd’s Casualty Department, an insurance company
in the United Kingdom which monitors the movement of ships with insurance policy with it,
that thunder and lightning had struck the vessel,
resulting in the death of some members of its crew.
He said the survivors were initially picked by another vessel, the Toledo Spirit,
before arrangements were made to send another vessel, the M/T April, to bring them to Tema.
According to Captain Aboagye, the Ukrainian captain and two other Ghanaians
whose bodies were yet to be retrieved were affected by an explosion i
which occurred as a result of the lightning and thunder.
He said the remaining four persons who died were believed to have been trapped by fenders.
Captain Aboagye described the incident as painful and sad
and advised the families of the victims to contact Atlas Services Limited
for any additional information concerning their relatives.