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30 feared dead after ship sinks off Doha

AS many as 30 people are feared dead after a ship capsized and sank in Persian Gulf waters off the Qatari capital Doha, the vessel's operator said yesterday.

The accident occurred at about 6:30am on Tuesday as the MV Demas Victory tried to return to port in bad weather, said George Mathew, general manager of the ship's operator. The ship provides support to offshore oil and gas platforms.

Mathew said the ship's captain had requested permission to enter the channel leading to Doha's harbor but was told to remain at an outer anchorage because of the rough conditions.

"At that time, a huge swell and strong wind hit him and the vessel was capsized," Mathew said. "It completely sank in three minutes."

Mathew said the ship was carrying 9 crew, along with 24 employees of the charterer HBK Power Cleaning and two caterers working for a company hired by HBK.

Five crew members - three Indians and two Indonesians - were rescued. They were on deck or in the wheelhouse at the time of the accident, Mathew said.

A spokesman for HBK said five bodies had been recovered by late yesterday afternoon. He said three of the dead were Nepalese and two were Indian.

Mathew said he feared those still missing would have been unable to escape their sleeping cabins as the ship went down. "They didn't have a chance to come out. I don't think there is any chance of anybody being alive."

The ship, flagged in the Caribbean island nation of St Vincent & The Grenadines, is operated by Dubai-based Midgulf Offshore Ship Chartering LLC on behalf of owner Demas Marine Inc.


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