20 May 2005

Families of shipping collision victims go to court

Families of the 14 victims of a tragic May 8 shipping collision off the coast of Port Elizabeth are taking legal action against the ship they say is responsible for claiming the lives of their loved ones.

The dependents claim the negligence of the Ouro Do Brasil caused the death of 14 of the Lindsay's crew members, and are seeking compensation for loss of support by the deceased as projected to retirement age, says their lawyer, Philip Shaw.

In addition, the two survivors of the Lindsay's crew of 16 - skipper Paul Landers, 36 and crewman John Ehlers, 37 - are taking part in the claim, seeking compensation for any injuries and loss of income they have suffered.

The claim was instituted last Friday, and should take a few months to be processed, said Shaw.

Matt Ash, lawyer representing the Ouro Do Brasil, confirmed that the claims are being defended, but said his client will not make an official statement until the results of the investigation are released.

"Samsa (SA Maritime Safety Authority) must complete its investigation before anyone can make claims as to liability and responsibility. These concerns will be addressed in a formal court process," said Ash.

According to earlier reports, large ships rounding the Cape of Good Hope from east to west come closer to shore to use the Indian Ocean's Aghulas current to speed their passage. From their high bridges, crew members often cannot see small vessels or manoeuvre fast enough to avoid them.

Ian Gray, station commander of the National Sea Rescue Institute at Port Elizabeth, said he believed "human error" was involved in causing the accident.

Gray was quoted as saying: "the bottom line is, obviously, somebody wasn't looking out".

Source: www.iol.co.za


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