Malaria kills two aboard Greek bulker

Panamanian and Filipino reported dead despite valiant efforts of South African rescue services.

Two seafarers working aboard a Greek-owned handysize bulker have died off South Africa after contracting malaria.

The two sailors, a 53 year old Panamanian and a 53 year old Filipino were crew aboard the 33,261-dwt Agios Fanourios (built 2009).

South African authorities first received reports that two sailors requiring urgent patient evacuation off the bulker on Wednesday afternoon, according to South Africa’s National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).

At the time the Liberian-flagged ship was approximately 92 nautical miles East of East London and sailing from Abijan to Durban.

“The distance and time constraints ruled out a ship to sea rescue craft rescue operation and the NSRI Airborne Sea Rescue (ASR) were alerted to coordinate an airborne sea rescue operation,” said Clifford Ireland, NSRI Durban station commander.

Separately, South Africa’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) scrambled an SA Air Force (SAAF) 15 Squadron Oryx helicopter.

The SAAF helicopter with its NSRI Durban ASR rescue swimmers rendezvoused with the ship 13 nautical miles off-shore of Port St Johns on the Transkei Wild Coast.

“Our NSRI rescue swimmers and the rescue paramedics were hoisted onto the ship from the helicopter and we found the two male sailors in the care of the ships medics, one in a serious condition, and one in a critical condition,” said Ireland.

“Medical treatment was administered and both patients’ conditions were stabilised. They were prepared and secured and hoisted into the helicopter in relays secured into specialised rescue stretchers.”

The Filipino patient’s heart was said to have failed once he was in the helicopter and CPR efforts were started and a heartbeat was eventually restored.

“Medical treatment to both patients continued onboard the helicopter and we landed at hospital in Durban at 23:06 where doctors and nurses took over medical treatment of both patients,” said Ireland.

“It was later confirmed that CPR efforts had been conducted in hospital on both patients whose conditions had deteriorated and both patients had sadly later died.”