Seafarers onboard Benita have been left “traumatised” by the fight among crew that caused the vessel to run aground off Mauritius last week.
Crewmember Omar Palmes Taton is accused of striking engineer Alvin Maderse on the head with a metal pipe, and is due in court today.
“Several crew members say they are very traumatised and they all seem genuinely concerned for each other’s welfare,” said Father Jacques-Henri, Apostleship of the Sea’s (AoS) Port Louis chaplain, who has been visiting the crew.
“The fourth engineer has been hospitalised and authorities are waiting for him to regain consciousness so he can help with inquiries. He is said to be able to provide vital clues in the case,” he added.
Taton, who was described as a “loner” by fellow crew, has been in custody in Mauritius since Friday and has been charged with aggravated assault, according to local press.
Maderse was medevaced from the ship and was put into an induced coma when his condition deteriorated over the weekend.
Two seafarers remain onboard the ship and are working with the salvage company, the chaplain said. The captain and the rest of the seafarers are being cared for by the Philippines Consulate.
“The local shipping agent is negotiating for the seafarers to be paid their salaries promptly,” Fr Jacques-Henri added.
The salvor, Five Ocean Salvage, has been pumping out the ship’s bunker fuel after oil was reportedly washed ashore. Three out of five cargo holds are thought to have been damaged by the grounding.
Benita (42,700 dwt, built 1998) is owned by Greece’s Unit Maritime. The vessel was on its way from India to Durban in South Africa when it ran aground.