47 jump ship, 14 missing, 3,994 return home
Three Bangladesh nationals evacuated from Libya drowned in Greek waters on Saturday night while trying to swim to shore from a ship moored at Hania Port of Crete Island, according to the foreign ministry.
‘After berthing at Hania Port, some 47 jumped ship and three of them died and 18 have been hospitalised,’ the ministry said in a release Sunday evening.
The victims were believed to be workers of South Korean Daewoo Engineering & Construction Ltd. Their identities were, however, not available immediately.
The Bangladesh ambassador in Greece, Mohammad Azizul Haque, and the mission staff were closely working with the local authorities and with Daewoo in arranging their repatriation to Bangladesh, said the ministry.
Daewoo Engineering & Construction Ltd chartered two ships to relocate some 2,042 Bangladeshi expatriate workers from Libya, it said.
‘Forty-nine people left the ship. They used a rope to climb down,’ a merchant marine official of Greece, told Agence France-Presse.
Authorities alerted by local residents initially found 31 men, all drenched, on a beach near Souda Bay in the early hours of Sunday.
The Greek coastguard recovered the bodies of two men who drowned at sea, while the third person died en route to a hospital, according to a press statement from the merchant marine department.
The reason why the passengers disembarked whimsically when the ship anchored at Souda Bay was, however, not known.
Of the 35 men who have been located so far, a good number of them were hospitalised at nearby Chania as many were suffering from hypothermia. Divers were searching the Souda harbour for the rest 14 people.
Ships have been ferrying thousands of migrant workers fleeing civil war in Libya to Crete in recent days.
Three Greek navy vessels have also been patrolling the Mediterranean Sea between Crete and Libya since last week to protect Greek ships participating in the evacuation of foreign nationals.
Souda Bay is also the location of a US naval base where on Friday two US warships, the USS Kearsage and the USS Ponce, dropped anchor carrying Marines and equipment to help evacuate people fleeing Libya.
A total of 3,994 Bangladesh citizens who were employed in Libya flew back home till midday Sunday, according to the foreign ministry.
Of these, return of 2,562 has been arranged by their employers as well as on their own arrangement and that of 1,432 arranged through the International Organisation for Migration.
Some 168 persons were supposed to return from Egypt on Sunday past midnight.
The US government has offered to assist in the repatriation process of Bangladeshi citizens from the area and the matter is under process, the foreign ministry said.
Some 27,000, out of about 60,000 Bangladesh nationals working in Libya, have relocated to safer places from Libya.
Courtesy of New Age