A search for Alexandros T survivors continued on Wednesday a week after the ship sank off the south-east coast, the Greek embassy said. The tug Smit Amandla was still searching for 26 missing crewmen on behalf of the ship’s owners, Counsellor Dimitri Yannakakis said. By noon on Wednesday nothing had been found. “The tug has been there since the beginning of the events. She was there the first two days under MRCC (Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre) control, and the last three days… chartered by the company.”
He said his government added its voice to Philippines in asking South Africa to restart the official search for survivors, called off on Saturday. This search had included the use of aircraft and helicopters.
Seven crew – five Filipinos, a Romanian and one of unknown nationality – were rescued in that search. The Philippine foreign ministry on Wednesday said it had asked South Africa to resume the official search. It added that Greece and Romania supported this call. But the MRCC said on Wednesday it was unlikely any more survivors would be found as the life expectancy in the water at the time of the disaster last Wednesday was just 12 hours. The air search was called off after 72 hours. Most of those still missing at sea, presumed lost, are Filipino. Four, including the captain, 60-year-old Blismas Banagiotis, are Greek. The Greek-registered ship sank in stormy weather and heavy seas last Wednesday night, about 600km east of Port Elizabeth. It was carrying a cargo of steel from Brazil to China. The ship broke up very quickly and survivors said not everyone could reach life rafts. Five crewmen were rescued from a life raft and one was plucked from the sea on Wednesday. On Thursday morning another man was found on a life raft. Four other life rafts spotted by a rescue aircraft were found to be empty. The 299m bulk carrier had been built in 1989. – Sapa