The Goa Seamen Association of India (GSAI), a collective of seafarers, called for a “fair investigation” into the death of Beejoy Sequeira, a local boy who worked as a chef aboard the vessel MV Jabal Alkawar on September 17. His family accused the shipping company of neglecting his health and denying him an emergency medical evacuation, which they said resulted in his death.
Sequeira, 37, is said to have contracted Covid-19 with symptoms developing while at sea and. His family alleged that he was denied medical treatment despite his worsening symptoms. According to the family, he was not allowed to disembark nor was he hospitalized. He is survived by his wife and two young daughters aged six and four.
Sequeira was employed as a chef on board the MV JABAL AL ââKHAWR, a Marshall Islands-registered bulk carrier, vessel owned and operated by Oman Shipping Company.
âHe had been ill since September 5 when the ship was in port in Malaysia, his condition deteriorated and no initiative was taken by the captain and the company to medically evacuate him or divert the ship to port on closer. The company did not respond on the events leading up to his death, the company only called to inform that it had expired on September 17, 2021, âsaid GSAI President Frank Viegas.
His family are now running from pillar to pillar in an attempt to retrieve his body from Mauritius where it currently lies after the ship made the late decision to divert to Mauritius en route from Malaysia to South Africa.
Beejoy joined the ship in March this year well before the start of the vaccination campaign in India and was not vaccinated. On September 7, Beejoy informed his brother Eldon that he had been suffering from a high fever with symptoms of Covid-19 for two days and that another crew member was also exhibiting similar symptoms.
âAt this point the ship was in a port in Malaysia unloading cargo. His condition seemed to improve with the drop in his fever, but he continued to have a cough and body aches. By this time the ship had left port and the next port of call was Cape Town, South Africa. On September 11, he informed me again that his state of health was deteriorating, that he could not move and that he was coughing constantly and that three other crew members were being kept in isolation by the captain â, Eldon said.
Eldon asked him to ask the captain to hijack the ship and disembark it as his health was deteriorating rapidly.
âThe captain also agreed that his health was certainly deteriorating and that he would ask the company to get him off the ship after turning to the nearest port. Instead, on September 12, the captain informed him that medical aid was being organized in Cape Town, South Africa, where they were due to arrive by September 26 and 27, âa said Eldon.
This would mean an additional 15 days before medical treatment can be administered.
Increasingly desperate, his family back home urged him to continue to “somehow convince the captain to hijack the ship” while simultaneously calling the crew agency “V-Ships”. Mumbai âand asked them to organize emergency relief. However, they were curtly told that he was “stable” and that his condition was being monitored.
On September 17, he sent voice messages saying he was too weak to stand and had difficulty breathing. That same day, the company called the family to inform them that he was no longer.
âIt is clearly evident that the total negligence of the captain, DPA, the owners of the Oman Shipping Company and the management of V-ships is the cause of my brother’s death. The master should have performed the RT-PCR test while the vessel was still in port. He also provided false information to Malaysian port control regarding the Covid-19 customs clearance protocol before departure knowing that some of his crew were ill with symptoms of Covid, later he also did not managed to hijack the ship and request an emergency medical evacuation even after my brother’s medical condition. got worse, âEldon said.
“I personally think he decided to ignore the facts and continue the voyage at the request of the owners and management, bearing in mind the cost involved if the vessel is quarantined,” he said. -he adds.
The GSAI has called for an investigation to establish the facts and hold those responsible accountable.
âIt was total negligence on the part of the captain not to confuse the vessel when informed by the shore medics. There is always a lot of commercial pressure from the owners / managers. Ultimately, it is the teacher’s responsibility to make the right decision. Today a life has been lost through outright neglect, âViegas said.
âDue to the casual approach of all stakeholders, precious time and opportunities were lost, through which medical care could have been administered, which would have saved his life, instead of allowing his health to fail. deteriorate over a period of ten days since exhibiting his first symptoms. “added Viegas.
“I have informed all relevant authorities including Mauritius Port State Control (where the vessel is anchored to disembark my brother’s remains) Marshall Islands Flag State, ITF, IMO, DG Shipping India, Ministry of Shipping and ask them to take strong action against the above mentioned parties. But unfortunately none of the authorities responded, “Eldon said.
The shipping company offered a similar version of events, but said it had adopted the best course of action available.
âBejoy Ressel Sequeira first reported discomfort on September 9 and was immediately isolated in his cabin as instructed by the captain, who then immediately contacted officials and the International Radio Medical Center (CIRM) for advice and treatment. The company considered options to hijack the ship for further medical support, but as the ship crossed the Sunda Strait and into the Indian Ocean, the best option was identified as Mauritius. Tragically, the chef passed away on September 17th and the ship anchored in Port Louis on September 20th, âsaid Pat Adamson, representative of Oman Ship Management Company.
“An autopsy carried out in Mauritius on September 30 showed that the chef died of pulmonary embolism, the body being free from infection or any contagious disease,” he added.
âThe Directors and Team Leaders extend their sincere condolences to the family and friends of Bejoy Sequeira at this tragic time, with support and information to the families being provided through V.Ships India,â he said.