Friday, December 19, 2008
A boat Captain who told his crew to jump off the sinking vessel to safety could not save himself from drowning. The boat heading to Khalid Port carrying Captain Alexander Fernando and four men developed engine trouble 15km off Sharjah coast, before sinking. Sharjah Police confirmed that all members on board survived except Captain Fernando, who was from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Nasser Siddiqui, one of the survivors of the ship, narrated his ordeal to Gulf News yesterday over how a simple routine turned into the most terrifying experience of his life. It was a typical day for Siddiqui, who runs Abhath calibration services, when he was requested to travel offshore and submit a quotation for equipment required for three ships. "It was around 1:30pm when I inspected the first ship and by the time I was to inspect the second ship, the wind was picking up speed. I was accompanied by Captain Fernando and his assistant Ali and other crew." They were 15km off Khalid Port of Sharjah, at the time of the incident. It was then that Captain Fernando told them to head back to shore and escape the foul weather before it got worse.
Nasser Siddiqui (in navy blue jacket), one of the survivors of a boat that sank off Sharjah coast, alongside the body of Captain Alexander Fernando (in striped T-shirt) seen in a boat that brought them to the Khalid port."We were back on our small boat heading back to the Port when we saw that the engine room was filling with water. I had no idea how it started or where it came from, but we started to panic as the level of water was rising. "The captain immediately telephoned for help and when we were 5km away from the shore, the engine broke down. He was courageous and took great care of me, offering me a life jacket before assisting himself, and he kept telling me words of assurance that we were going to be fine." Twenty minutes after that, the boat started to sink. By then the engine room was submerged in water and the Captain was telling them to jump. "I was too scared to jump and all sorts of thoughts were going through my mind. I thought about my parents, my wife, my family, and my life passed before me. The 50 seconds it took me to jump out of the boat felt like a life time." The men were swimming for at least half an hour before they were rescued by a small boat. "I do not know how Captain Fernando lost his life and I would really like to know how it happened. He was a very humble and courageous man who put the safety of the crew before his own. He will be deeply missed by us all." He was a very humble and courageous man who put the safety of the crew before his own. The 50 seconds it took me to jump out of the boat felt like a life time."