SCENES of high emotion played out on the jetty of Seawork Fish Processors in Walvis Bay on Sunday morning as anxious family members saw fire fighters bring the remains of a dead sailor ashore.
The body of the 40-year-old Hausiku Mathews Sivambo, a crew member of the Ocean Tide, who died tragically while trapped inside the burning hull of the fishing vessel, was removed by fire fighters after they battled the blaze for more than 36 hours. The fire broke out on board the MV Ocean Tide on Saturday morning.
Because the fire was confined to the hull of the vessel, conditions on board were too dangerous to allow fire fighters to retrieve Sivambo.
Members of the Walvis Bay Fire Brigade and emergency crews and a fire fighting tug from the Namibian Ports Authority battled the blaze on board the fishing vessel late into Saturday night.
By Sunday morning the inside of the vessel was still smouldering but the steel hull that was constantly bombarded with streams of water from fire hoses on the jetty and the fire fighting tug was cooled down enough to enable fire fighters to enter the vessel with the aid of oxygen masks and heavy protective clothing to retrieve the deceased person.
According to the incident report provided by the Erongo Regional Crime Investigations Coordinator, Deputy Commissioner Erastus Iikuyu, the fire on board the fishing vessel started at about 07:00 on Saturday morning while 20 crew members were working on the vessel.
“All but one of the crew members managed to escape unharmed to the safety of the jetty where the vessel was moored, but unfortunately Sivambo was trapped inside the vessel where he died as a result of the fire.”
One of the fire fighters who assisted with the retrieval of the deceased person’s body said it is possible that Sivambo was overcome by the thick smoke that was still billowing out of the vessel on Sunday.
According the incident report Sivambo’s remains was taken to the Walvis Bay Police Mortuary where a post mortem examination will have to determine the actual cause of death.
A senior employee of Seawork Fish Processors described the death of the crew member as a tragedy. The manager indicated that the company will release an official statement about the sad affair at a later stage.