Filipino seamen downed by food poisoning on chemical tanker

By Cynthia Balana
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 17:36:00 09/03/2008


Source of Article:


MANILA, Philippines—Twenty-three seamen, most of them Filipinos, have been downed by food poisoning while transiting aboard the Liberian 580-foot chemical tanker Stolt Sapphire in waters south of Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Reports from the online Carribean Net News on August 30, and the United Filipino Seafarers, a Philippine-based Workers' Federation, said the seamen fell ill after eating barracuda on Wednesday night.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was still checking the reports.

Reports said that the 35-man crew of the Stilt Sapphire consisted of 27 Filipino, four Latvian, two Chinese, one Polish and one Ukrainian nationals. The tanker was transporting chemical cargo from St. Eustatius, Netherlands Antilles to Houston, Texas at the time of the incident.

The reports, however, did not name and nationality of the victims of food poisoning.

According to the reports, Coast Guard controllers in Puerto Rico immediately launched an Air Station Borinquen HH-65 Dolphin helicopter to rendezvous with the Stolt Sapphire offshore and deployed a health specialist onboard the tanker.

At least five passengers, including the vessel's captain, received medical care ashore.

The helicopter crew used rescue basket to hoist three of the crewmembers ashore, and then returned to the vessel for the remaining two. All five were transported to the Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action Air Station in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard controllers coordinated with Puerto Rico Department of Health medical personnel who deployed onboard the vessel and removed 18 additional crewmembers who were then transferred to local hospitals in Ponce.

Twelve crewmembers with no signs of illness remained on board the tanker.

The Stolt Sapphire will remain anchored at the Ponce Harbor until arrangements were made by the vessel's agent and owners to man the vessel with a fully qualified crew, the reports said.

US Customs and Border Protection personnel and Puerto Rico State Emergency Management Agency personnel also responded to the scene and were involved in coordinating part of the interagency response.


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