By Patrick N. Mensah, Maryland County
A 47-year-old man has reportedly gone missing after a fishing canoe capsized off the shores of Maryland County, Southeast Liberia.
Mr. Boye Quire and his colleagues were returning from a fishing expedition on Monday, July 19, 2021, when the canoe bringing them reportedly capsized.
Some survivors who spoke to reporters narrated that the canoe capsized suddenly after its 15powerhorse machine stopped.
They noted that the machine hit a rock near the shores of the Port of Harper when the canoe lost control and capsized.
“We had tried but no way so we all were left with no option but rather to swim for survival”, they said, and added that members of the fishing community, including residents of Maryland County, are worried about the whereabouts of their colleague who has gone missing.
“We are confused about the situation because it’s the first time for some of us to experience this type of trouble while on the ocean.”
They said though the fishing community and others launched a massive search without any success, family members of the missing fisherman are currently in tears, calling on local authorities, including the fishing union to intervene.
The family relates its nightmare to the situation of the NIKO IVANKA vessel that sunk Saturday, July 17, 2021, off the shores of Maryland County, leaving about eight persons reportedly missing.
According to the Liberia Maritime Commission at about 3:51 PM Saturday, it received an alert from the Liberia Coast Guard through its Monrovia Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Center of a distress situation onboard the NIKO IVANKA.
Addressing a news conference at the Liberia Coast Guard Base on Bushrod Island, in Monrovia, Maritime Commissioner General and also the national coordinator for search and rescue in Liberia, Lenn Eugene Nagbe said the NIKO IVANKA vessel departed the Freeport of Monrovia for Harper on Saturday, July 17, at about 6:00 A.M. with nine crew members and nine personnel of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Monrovia Office onboard.
Commissioner Nagbe narrated that while on its way to Harper City, the vessel started to take in water about six nautical miles off the coast of Marshall City, Margibi County which prompted an immediate launch of a search and rescue operation by stakeholders in the Maritime sector.
He noted that the Liberia Maritime Commission, the Ministry of National Defense, the Armed Forces of Liberia (Liberia Coast Guard) along with other partners mobilized resources, including assets and personnel, and immediately commenced search and rescue operations as a means of attending to the distressed vessel.
Commissioner Nagbe emphasized that upon the request of LiMA, ArcelorMittal Liberia, Sea Shepard, and other partners were immediately contacted in order to utilize their assets to assist in the search and rescue operations.
Nagbe continued that ArcelorMittal Liberia responded with two boats with coast guard personnel onboard from the Port of Buchanan in Grand Bassa County to the scene of the incident between Buchanan and Marshall Cities.
Meanwhile, Nagbe disclosed that the vessel NIKO IVANKA was under detention and not allowed to sail prior to the incident.
According to the Maritime boss, the vessel throughout its existence has not been licensed to operate as a passenger carrier, noting that the Maritime Authority along with all of the relevant entities, including the Ministry of Justice, is commissioning an investigation into how a vessel that was detained because of failure to meet rudimentary safety requirements managed to get on the sea with passengers and cargo. Editing by Jonathan Browne