Inquiry Into Cruise Ship Death

12.06.2008

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a crewman who became trapped with a colleague inside the hull of a cruise ship.

The men, both from the Philippines, were working in a ballast tank at the bottom of the Saga Rose as she was docked at Southampton Cruise Terminal in Hampshire. Firefighters were able to rescue one man, who was given oxygen therapy before being taken to hospital by air ambulance. The other man was unconscious when rescuers arrived and was declared dead at the scene.

It is not known why the men, believed to be engineers, opened the ballast tank. The tank, which holds water to control buoyancy and stability, is out of bounds and staff need written permission and a safety officer to go inside.

One of the men is believed to have climbed inside and was quickly overcome by the stale air. His colleague went to help but also got into difficulty. The incident is being treated as an industrial accident and the MCA is investigating on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has also been informed.

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David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "This terrible industrial accident highlights the importance of having a safe system of work, good training and enforcement of the safe system of work.

"Whilst the cause of this accident is unknown, something went very wrong leading to this work accident.

"I represent many workers who have been injured or killed in industrial accidents many of which could and should have been avoided."