Several Missing after Niko Ivanka Ship Sinks Off Coast of Liberia
Several persons are missing after a ship carrying at least 18 persons sank off the coast of Liberia on Saturday afternoon. Liberian registered Niko Ivanka vessel departed Monrovia for the Port of Harper in the southeast part of Liberia on Saturday morning and it started to take on water while it was at about 6 nautical miles off the coast of Marshall city in Margibi County. The vessel sent out a distress signal that afternoon notifying the coast guard that it had taken on water and a rescue operation began. Details about the sinking remain sketchy. Search and rescue operations are ongoing.
The manifest of the vessel showed 18 people officially registered aboard the ship. Among those listed on the manifest was a Swedish captain, a Chinese crew member, and nine members of West Africa's regional school examinations body. But, Liberian daily FrontPage Africa reported on Saturday night that 21 people were aboard the vessel. The precise number of missing passengers remains unknown.
Liberia Maritime Authority Commissioner Mr Eugene Lenn Nagbe told a search and rescue operation was immediately launched after Liberia Maritime Authority received an alert from the Liberian coastguard on Saturday afternoon about the accident. Mr Nagbe said "Even though the operation is ongoing, we have been informed by the men in the field that there has been some progress, and 11 persons have already been rescued from the distressed vessel. We are commissioning an investigation into how a vessel that was detained because of failure to meet rudimentary safety requirements managed to get on the sea with passengers and cargo. Priority now is to search and rescue.”
The vessel was under detention orders because of failure to meet rudimentary safety requirements, and it was also not allowed to operate as a passenger carrier.
The vessel's owner, a Chinese national, was arrested on Sunday afternoon and is now in police custody