Saturday, April 29, 2006

Probe Into Death Of Seaman Crushed By Ship Bulkhead Door

An investigation has been launched to discover how a seaman was crushed to death by a bulkhead door in a cargo ship anchored off Teignmouth. The man was working in the hold of Antigua-registered Neermoor yesterday morning when the accident happened. He is believed to have been in his 20s and from Russia or Eastern Europe. He was one of two members of the six-man crew carrying out general maintenance in the hold when the large bulkhead door, which separates cargo and runs on rollers, moved without warning. Neermoor, a 3,000-tonne coaster, had just arrived empty from Southampton, and was waiting to enter Teignmouth to collect a cargo of ball clay destined for Santander in Spain. Immediately after the ship, a frequent visitor to Teignmouth, alerted coastguards to the incident, medics and police were taken to it on the pilot boat.Police spokesman PC Baxter Proven said the force was told about the death, which is being treated as an industrial accident, at 6.10am. "The man, who is a foreign national, had been a member of the ship's crew. The ship was brought into Teignmouth docks where inquiries continued," he said. "A joint investigation with the Marine Accident Investigation Branch has begun, and the Health and Safety Executive has been informed of the incident. "Details of the man have been passed to the Foreign Office to ensure that his next of kin are informed of his death." Ambulance spokesman Chris Coles, who was on board the ship at the dockside yesterday morning, said the dead seaman would not have suffered. Police were yesterday afternoon treating the area as a crime scene, although the incident is not believed to be suspicious. A crane was used to lift the heavy plate that struck the man off his body. A fireman was present to assist and an interpreter was also required to communicate with the crew.The vessel was brought into the harbour earlier than scheduled, docking yesterday morning. Fire and ambulance officers, health and safety officials and maritime inspectors also scoured the boat to try and find out why the accident occurred. No other details of the incident or cause of death have been released. The South Devon coroner has been informed and a post mortem examination will be held. The ship's agent, Pike Ward Ltd, based in Teignmouth, said it was unable to comment because of the investigation.

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