Lack of precautions on sinking ferry: relatives

Lack of precautions on sinking ferry: relatives

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Lack of precautions on sinking ferry: relatives

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Relatives of the rescue boat captain and fisherman who died during search and rescue efforts after a Russian ship sank in Istanbul’s Black Sea, say they were sent to work without adequate precautions.

Captain Cemil Özden’s brother Hasan Özden claimed that his brother was called on duty instead of another crew that refused to sail, the daily Radikal reported today. “After the cargo ship sank, Coastal Security asked Captain Rıfat and his crew to start a search and rescue operation. When Captain Rıfat refused to sail, the Coastal Security Directorate General called my brother Cemil Özden.

The previous day, the Şile coast experienced the most violent waves of the last 50 years. My brother Cemil was a very experienced sailor. I will file a lawsuit against the Coastal Security Directorate General, which did not even pay attention to the information given by its own captain,” Hasan Özden said.

A cargo ship, a rescue boat and a fishing vessel sank on Dec. 4 due to strong storms in the Black Sea near Istanbul’s Şile coast. The St. Kitts and Nevis-flagged ship, Volgo Balt 199, with 11 Ukrainian and one Russian crew member aboard, was sailing to the Turkish port of Antalya from Russia when it sank off the coast of Istanbul. The vessel was carrying coal. Search and rescue teams saved four members of the cargo ship, recovered one body and were searching for seven other crewmen when one of the rescue boats hit rocks and also sank along Şile’s Mendirek shore, killing two of the rescuers, Cemil Özden and Turgay Sarıboğa, and injuring another rescuer, Ahmet Kasarcı. One rescuer, Mehmet Genç, and Mümin Akgün, a fisherman who went to help the boat, are also missing.

Akgün’s father, Şakir Akgün, said while the fishermen tried to rescue the boat, neither the coastal guard nor any other authority was present at the scene of the incident. “Neither coastal guards nor fishermen could survive in such weather. They sent them to their deaths even though they knew that surviving [that storm] would be a supernatural phenomenon,” Akgün said.

Meanwhile, Coastal Security Director General Salih Orakçı issued a statement in regards to these reactions.

“These boats are equipped with the latest technology. With these ten boats we bought from Norway 12 years ago, we have rescued 1538 people so far. Claims of calling off-duty personnel are not true.

Our personnel never pay attention to their own lives. They supervise the system and make decisions with their own initiative. You cannot assign anyone a duty by force. There is not such an option,” Orakçı said.