Carbon monoxide poisoning is thought to have been the cause of the death of a seafarer and the loss of consciousness of three other people while they were in the hold of a vessel transporting wood pellets in the Danish port of Hanstholm.
The four – three seafarers and one port worker – were found unconscious in the hold of the vessel, the 5,796 gt Polish-flagged Corina, owned by Gdansk-based Gdanska Zegluga. The three survivors are making good recoveries in hospital.
The Danish Maritime Authority told IHS Maritime that investigations were still in progress but that carbon monoxide poisoning was known to be a hazard with wood pellet cargoes and was recognised as such by the international maritime solid bulk cargoes code.
Director of survey and certifications Martin John said that the authority had found no obvious non-compliance with regulations when it inspected the vessel but added, “Obviously, somehow the crew and persons on board did not act according to the guidance and procedures.”
He said that the persons overcome had been found in an area which was only separated from the cargo by a wooden panel.
Danish police and environmental authorities are carrying out investigations into the precise circumstances of the accidents, as is Poland as the vessel’s flag state.
Following its inspection, the Danish maritime authority has issued advice to its inspectors and surveyors to draw the attention of shipping companies to the need to follow the recognised procedures when unloading potentially hazardous cargoes.
In the case of wood pellets, John admitted that part of the problem was that they appeared to be harmless.
However, he added, “In this case, an unharmful-looking cargo obviously caused a fatal accident.”