6 May 2010

Logging ship cleared to sail after death of crew

12:11 pm on 6 May 2010

The Korean-owned log ship on which two men died earlier this week is to sail from Port Marsden near Whangarei on Thursday.

The two men, one from South Korea and the other from Myanmar, suffocated on Monday aboard the Panamanian-registered TPC Wellington at Marsden Point near Whangarei, and a third man had to be treated in hospital.

Emergency services say one of the men entered a hatchway to check for a possible leak, and the other two followed in a failed rescue attempt.

The ship has been cleared to depart for Korea after investigations into the accident and negotiations with the ship's crew.

The Maritime Union says the crew, who are mostly from Myanmar, wanted to leave the ship in Whangarei because they had safety concerns about the vessel and were upset by the death of their colleagues.

The union's negotiator, Grahame McLaren from the International Transport Workers' Federation, says have now agreed to make the twenty-day trip to Korea on condition they'll be paid off when they arrive, given a bonus and sent home to Myanmar.

He says the ship's captain has been flown home, distressed at the deaths of the two crew, and the Korean owners have flown out a new captain and first officer for the return trip.

The ship has been cleared as safe by Maritime New Zealand and investigations into the cause of the accident continue.