MARITIME | Deadly nap in a container

From The Daily Star | 2011.04.14

A Bangladeshi port worker survived nine days trapped without food or water in a cargo container shipped to Singapore from Chittagong.

But his compatriot co-worker, trapped with him, died.

Din Islam, 30, said he and another man [named] Alamgir got trapped while resting in the container at Chittagong Port on April 1, with nothing but a pack of cigarettes between them, the New Paper and the Straits Times of Singapore reported.

Police said Din Islam and the body of Alamgir were discovered on Sunday by workers at Pasir Panjong Container Terminal in Singapore who heard loud banging in the container.

The container was carried from Chittagong Port to Singapore by cargo ship Hansa Caledo. The ship sailed from Chittagong on April 2.

The two men had completed their cleaning chores at Chittagong Port when they popped into the empty container to take a nap, Din Islam told Singapore police, reported The Straits Times on Tuesday.

Din Islam said they shouted and banged on the walls of the container to attract attention before it was being shipped. But no help came.

“Then we just slept and we didn’t know that the container had been picked up and transported onto the ship. By the time we woke up, we were probably already on the ship,” Din told the New Paper, according to AFP.

He said his colleague, estimated to be 40 years old, collapsed and died after a few days in the container.

“I really didn’t know what to do. I was very scared… I cried and I prayed to god for a miracle to happen. I prayed for my life,” he added.

The Hansa Caledo made a five-day journey from Chittagong to Singapore.

After arrival in Singapore, the container was moved to the port’s yard.

At 8:20pm on April 10, Din mustered up his strength in a last bid for rescue. As the container was being moved to a trailer so it could be reloaded onto another ship, the Helvetia, bound for Vietnam, dock workers heard banging sounds coming from inside.

When they opened the door, they found Din Islam with the decomposing corpse of his co-worker with no travel document.

Overwhelmed by the stench from the decomposing corpse of the dead, the dock workers tried to get away.

The corpse of Alamgir was taken to Singapore General Hospital, while following treatment from Alexandra Hospital, police yesterday handed over Din Islam to Transient Workers Count Too (TWC), a charity for migrants in Singapore.

He will be under TWC’s care until he is fully fit to return home, said Bangladeshi AKM Mohsin, who is the editor of Banglar Kantha, a Bangla newspaper published from Singapore.

After talking to the survivor, Singapore police said they do not believe that foul play was involved. However, some think the men could have got into the container with an intent to go abroad.

Earlier, fortune-seekers took risky journeys from Cox’s Bazar to Malaysia, and many died on the way.

“Details of the two men could not be known yet,” Bangladesh High Commission First Secretary Zahid Hossain in Singapore told The Daily Star over the phone yesterday.

Saiful Islam, senior manager of the Hansa Caledo’s shipping agent Sea Com in Chittagong, told The Daily Star that empty containers, if any, are not checked so well before ships sail.

He confirmed the container having the two men was carried by the Hansa Caledo that sailed from Chittagong Port to Klang Port in Malaysia via Singapore on April 2.

It is beyond their knowledge how the two men got into the container, he said adding, “They could be port or truck workers trying to go abroad. We don’t have any worker in the port.”

People familiar with the workings of ports said it is uncommon for someone to be accidentally locked inside a container, reported The Straits Times.

A manager at a company specialising in container security in Singapore said the men’s shouting might have been missed if a crane was used to stack containers on top of the one that the men were in.

Meanwhile, a four-member committee, headed by Deputy Conservator of Chittagong Port Authority Capt Nazmul Alam, was formed in Chittagong yesterday to investigate the incident, reported our Chittagong correspondent.

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One response to “MARITIME | Deadly nap in a container

  1. Pingback: Port Worker Survives Nine Days in Locked Container « Maritime Lawyer | Jones Act Attorney | Brian Beckcom

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