A Tanzanian-flagged cargo ship, M/V REEF ELAF, sank off the Omani coast due to leaked sea water.
The incident happened six miles to the North East of the port of Al-Labki in Wilayat Jazir, at Al-Wusta governorate, said the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
The ship was heading from the UAE to Eritrea, in East Eritrea, loaded with sand and iron rods, it added in a statement posted on the state-run Oman News Agency. A fisherman succeeded in saving all the twenty-member crew of the sinking vessel.
A marine engineer made an SOS call that saved 20 crew members from a sinking ship, and it’s not the first time he’s saved lives.
Mohammed Sayeed Aijaz, 58, has been working in Oman for the last 17 years and says he has saved dozens of crew members from sinking ships.
Aijaz made the call to Omani hero Fayiz Al Junaibi, who raced to rescue the 20-man crew from their sinking cargo ship on Sunday. “I have saved people from around 20 to 25 ships in my life,” he told the Times of Oman on Monday.
“I got a distress call from the ship owner’s manager, who knows me personally, that the ship had run into bad weather and was anchored at Al-Labki. I immediately hired fishing boats and went to the spot,” he said.
The Omani national, who went with Aijaz, said he got a call on Friday, saying the ship had a hole in its side—with water coming in fast. “On Eid day at 9am, a Pakistani man who worked on the ship called me and told me that the ship was facing some problems. So I took him for a distance of two miles and helped him.
“The next day he called again and asked me to help him in repairing the engine.”
“At 2:30pm on Sunday, the Pakistani man called and told me that the ship is sinking. I left with two fishing boats along with my worker and reached after 25 minutes. I tried helping the 20 people. At 4:45pm, I called the coastguard to come and help, and by 5pm all the authorities had arrived.
“I personally sent one crew member to the Al Jazir Hospital in my own car.”
“When I got there, I tried to rush. I could not contact the authorities straight away because the wind speed was nearly 35 knots and the sea was rough so they wouldn’t have been able to hear me.”
Aijaz said the role of the Omani fishermen also deserved praise. “It was very challenging because of the adverse weather conditions in the middle of the sea,” he said.
The owner of the ship is now trying to repatriate crew members. “He is also trying to take the ship out of the waters,” he added.
He also claimed that this is not the first time he was instrumental in saving people.
“During my 35 years at sea, I have saved around 20 to 30 ships, including five in Oman as my work is to salvage ships from the middle of the sea,” he said, adding that he had worked in the Seychelles, Ivory Coast and several countries in Africa and Europe.
Twenty crew members of the Tanzanian registered cargo ship were rescued on Sunday after they sank in Omani territorial waters just before the port of Al-Labki in Wilayat Jazir. The ship was carrying building and steel materials. (TIMES OF OMAN) (PHOTOS: ROYAL OMAN POLICE)