The crew were rescued by the Ortube Berria near the Comoros Islands. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)
Crew rescued from sunken Basque tuna vessel in Indian Ocean
Tuesday, March 15, 2011, 00:30 (GMT + 9)
An auxiliary vessel belonging to Albacora SA sank early on Saturday morning in the vicinity of the Comoros archipelago, northeast of the island of Madagascar, while operating as a detector of tuna fishing grounds.
With the help of the Ortube Berria vessel, which was sailing around 15 miles from the wreck, the 11 crew members on board the Iria Flavia auxiliary vessel were rescued.
According to information released by the shipping company, the sinking of the vessel was caused by a leak that flooded the engine room.
"They used pumps on board the vessel, but found it impossible to contain the water, which eventually affected the electrical circuits. They could not prevent the vessel from sinking," said the authorized spokesperson from Albacora.
Ricardo Garcia, director of the company, said the crew are in perfect health. "They are on board the Ortube Berria and are heading to the port of Diego Suarez in Madagascar, and from there they will return home. The fishermen have not sustained any major injuries, fortunately," he said.
When asked about the episode, he said: "The vessel headed to the seas on 20 January and was fishing normally in the Canal Zone in Madagascar, without any problems."
"At the time of the leak, the water level began to rise, there was an alarm system in the engine room. When the alarm bell rang, all the crew proceeded to carry out security protocols, but in the end the entry of the water was so strong that there was no way to pump out more water than what was coming in."
Garcia said that they are still unclear with regards to what caused the accident, as the ship had passed all relevant safety inspections earlier this year without any problems.
"It was a veteran vessel but it was in pretty good condition and it had been classified and approved by the Bureau Veritas, and the last inspection took place in January, just before it headed out to sea," reports the newspaper Faro de Vigo.
The Iria Flavia was built in 1965 and was 27.75 meters long with a cargo capacity of 262 tonnes.
This very vessel had in fact been harassed by pirates in October 2009, while sailing in the Indian Ocean around 1,200 miles off the coast of Somalia, which is considered far from the 'danger zone', according to Diario Vasco.
By Analia Murias