Heading to Durban in South Africa, after leaving India, the Liberian cargo ship MV Benita failed on reefs in Le Bouchon, near Mahébourg in the southeastern Mauritius.
A fight between the crew members is behind the sinking. One person among them was injured. The chief engineer of the ship, believed to have caused confusion on board, was arrested by the Mauritian police.
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Elements of the National Coast Guard (NCG) took control of the MV Benita on Friday afternoon June 17. They arrested the ship’s chief engineer. He is the cause of the brawl that erupted on the night of Thursday, June 16.
The MV Benita left India and was heading to Durban when the fight broke out. We deplore injured: the chief engineer Alvin Maderse, a Filipino of 28 year old. Shot in the head and hand, he was hoisted by police early on Friday, June 17 before being led to the Rose-Belle Hospital where he was admitted.
The exact circumstances surrounding this fight are not known at this time.
The MV Benita that had 23 crew members – Filipinos and Taiwanese – has failed on reefs in Le Bouchon, near Mahébourg in southeastern Mauritius on Friday morning June 17. There was no cargo on board, according to our intersections.
At 4:30 PM, the ship’s towing operation was continuing. The police began to remove the crew of the ship. They are safe.
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It was shortly after 2:00 PM that the commandos of the Marcoss brigade from NCG stormed the MV Benita. The chief engineer of the ship, who was locked in the engine room, was arrested. He will be asked about the brawl that broke out on board.
Shortly after midnight, a first radio call was made by the master of the ship to report a problem on board. And it’s an hour after that a request for a medical evacuation was made.
A violent fight between the 23 crew members, consisting of Filipino and Taiwanese erupted. The vessel was then was 12 nautical from Mahebourg.
The MV Benita evacuation operation started at 5:30 PM on Friday, June 17. The police helicopter and members of the NCG approached the ship and found that there was a crew member injured aboard.
Meanwhile, the ship continued to drift and it’s about 7:30 AM that it ran aground on the reefs in Le Bouchon. The police helicopter went to the ship, and the wounded were evacuated.
Soon after, a team of CGS Rescuer, with on board elements of the NCG, docked MV Benita.
A tug expected from Reunion Island
A Reunion tug is expected in the hours to help tow the MV Benita.
The NCG, according to our cross-checking, could not locate the MV Benita that was heading to South Africa. Local authorities argue that two anchors of the ship were damaged. The elements of the NCG were able to have control when they boarded the ship.
But local authorities are facing a major problem: how to remove the ship where it is engulfed?
Time and strong swells are playing a big part of this situation. The NCG and the Mauritius Ports Authority Officers (MPA) have tried to connect the vessel to a trailer and start the evacuation of the crew operation. According to authorities, “this operation could last several days.”
Built in 1998, the MV Benita can carry up to 42,717 tons of cargo.
It is the company 5 Ocean Salvage that the Owner of MV Benita has designated to take care of the recovery operation. This team is expected in Mauritius by Saturday morning June 18.
Meanwhile, says Alain Donat, Director of Shipping, a Mauritius “salvage team” was airlifted to the ship to make an initial observation. This exercise revealed that the MV Benita contains 145 tonnes of “fuel oil” and 30 tons of “gas oil”.
If Alain Donat confirms that there is no spill trace in the lagoon, he ensures that all measures have been taken to prevent marine pollution.