Court hears Captain in Bahrain boat tragedy 'was forced to sail'

Bahrain boat disaster court hearing

05.07.2006

A court in Bahrain hearing evidence into the sinking of the boat the Al Dana off the Bahrain coast on March 30 in which 58 people were killed including 12 Britons, have heard in defence of the boats Captain and owner that Mr Simon Hill a passenger aboard the ill-fated Al Dana dhow allegedly threatened the captain when he refused to sail. Defence lawyer Mohammed Al Watani also claimed that Mr Hill an employee of Murray and Roberts, the South African based construction company which organised the event unhooked the vessel from its moorings and pushed it off from the jetty.

The Al Dana capsized with over 150 passengers on board. Most of the 58 who died were trapped on the lower level of the vessel. Families of the dead and injured have instructed Law Firm Irwin Mitchell to pursue claims for damages.

The Al Dana was hired by local company Island Tours who in turn chartered the boat to the Murray & Roberts for a party to celebrate the completion of part of the Bahrain World Trade Centre. Murray & Roberts, a South African company, with offices in the UK, lost ten employees. Also invited to the event were employees of Surrey construction company W.S. Atkins plc who were also involved in the construction project. 5 members of W.S Atkins' UK staff also died on board. In total 12 Britons died in the tragedy.

The owner of the Al Dana Abdulla Al Kobaisi and captain T Ramachandran Kumar both deny causing the deaths of 58 people. Mr Al Kobaisi is accused of causing their deaths by using an unseaworthy vessel and neglecting the safety of passengers, while Mr Kumar is accused of causing their deaths by sailing a vessel while unqualified to do so.

According to lawyers for the defence Mr Hill threatened to throw Mr Kumar into prison if he did not sail. Mr Al Watan told the court that Mr Hill untied the vessel's mooring rope and pushed it away from the jetty.
The case was adjourned until September 19, for witnesses to be called.

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