PHUKET: Crewman Abu Bakar Siddique lies resting in a ward in Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket Town, recovering from his ordeal of being washed overboard from the cargo ship MV Hope amid heavy seas late Thursday night.
The MV Hope was overpowered by rough seas while en route from Penang, Malaysia, to Chittagong, Bangladesh. The ship was about 25 nautical miles south of Racha Noi Island when the heavy weather began to take its toll (story here).
“About 11pm, there was heavy rain and seas that made our ship shake,” he told the Phuket Gazette.
“Around midnight, the starboard side was hit by big waves and damaged. There was a big hole in the side and the ship started sinking,” he added.
There were 17 people on the ship when it started listing heavily.
“There were 12 of us on deck when the ship suddenly tipped. We all went overboard, but the other five people did not, as they were standing on the other side,” Mr Siddique explained.
“I was in the water. Strong waves kept hitting me and bashing my head against the side of the ship… I tried to grab where the waves had ripped open the hull, but I couldn’t hold on. I cut my fingers on the torn metal,” he said, raising his bandaged hand to show the cuts.
“I didn’t know where my friends were. I couldn’t see any of them,” he added.
“Then I saw a life preserver floating on the water. I grabbed it and held on. I saw the five people who were still on the ship being rescued by another ship, but that ship could not see me,” he said.
The five crewman – Fourth Engineer Md Abdul Hakim, Deck Cadets Moklechur Rahman, Mohammed Rubel, Mohammad Osman and Saiful Islam – were rescued by the German container ship Buxmoon, which responded to a distress signal activated by the crew before the ship was abandoned (see here).
“I lay with my face down on the life preserver and held it tight. That moment I thought about God, because he was the only one who could give me the strength to survive,” Mr Siddique explained.
“It kept raining and the sea was crazy. Then I heard a helicopter sound. In that moment, I knew I would survive” he added.
Exhausted from his ordeal, Mr Siddique remains grateful.
“The pain in my head isn’t much better, but thank God I am alive,” he said.
Officials from the Bangladesh embassy in Bangkok have arrived in Phuket to assist navy efforts in recovering their crewmen and the stricken MV Hope.
Two more survivors as well as the bodies of two men, yet to be identified but both believed to have been crewmen on the MV Hope, were recovered from the search area yesterday.
The search for more survivors continues today.
— Saran Mitrarat
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