Questions are being raided about the sinking of cargo vessel RAPTOR and the reasons the captain did not ask for help on time as there was water ingress hours earlier. The only survivor reportedly told authorities that the vessel’s destination was the Ukraine and not Turkey. Meanwhile, Search And Rescue operation for the 12 missing crew members is ongoing.
Greek authorities on Monday announced that the body found at sea on Sunday has been identified as that of an Egyptian sailor after he was identified by the only survivor of the RAPTOR shipwreck, a 30-year-old engineer, also an Egyptian national.
With 14 crew members onboard, cargo ship RAPTOR sank 4 nautical miles South-West off the island of Lesvos in the eastern Aegean Sea on Sunday morning. Twelve sailors are still missing early afternoon Monday, while the Search and Rescue operation resumed in the morning.
The only survivor managed to safe himself from drawing in the rough sea on a barrel and was rescued from the rough sea by a Helicopter of the Greek Air Force Sunday noon. He was taken to hospital in Mytelene.
“The vessel was taking on water since last [Saturday] night”, the ship engineer has told investigating port authorities, Mega TV reported.
“The boat was taking on water since last night. We tried with buckets, and whatever other means we had on board, to get the water out, to empty it. At one point, the boat took a hole, began to lean dangerously, and then I jumped overboard. Then I saw 4-5 other people also jumping into the water and from then on I didn’t see them again”, he testified.
The RAPTOR was carrying salt from Egypt and was bound for Istanbul. The captain of the bulk carrier had reported engine failure and it is surmised that there was a minor ingress of water into the hold that caused the cargo to shift – and ultimately sank.
However, the spokesman of the Greek Coast Guard told OPEN TV that had the captain reported a serious damage and water ingress, the vessel would be ordered to seek a port and stay docked several days until it was declared safe for sailing.
Video: RAPTOR in the rough sea before sinking
A video obtained by a Turkish website shows the RAPTOR before it sank.
The last video from the sunken ship MV Raptor pic.twitter.com/zJNbeRBKmk
— FocuSeaTV (@focuseatv) November 26, 2023
Suspicious cargo to Ukraine?
According to Skai TV, the survivor also testified that the vessel’s destination was the Ukraine and that they would make a stop for refueling in Istanbul.
The RAPTOR was blacklisted by international control authorities as 24 months ago it was found that the documents relating to the crew members were not approved, and there were illegal entries in the oil book(Oil Record Book). The oil issue is interpreted as an indication that the cargo vessel may have made illegal /undeclared routes, i.e. it may have been involved in smuggling, Skai noted.
Greek investigators are highly suspicious of the real cargo the vessel was transporting as the captain did not ask for help earlier but only moments before the RAPTOR sank.