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Residents of Cameroon’s near coastal settlements to the Bakassi peninsular woke up Sunday 26 August 2019, to the grim announcement that MV Austream en route from neighbouring Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria to Tiko port, South West Region of Cameroon had gone aground, with heavy loss of life and property feared. Till the time of this report, whilst search and rescue efforts are still underway by various civilian and army specialist team, details of fatalities and material loss are still sketchy considering the absence of viable records for local cabotage trade as practised in the region.

Concordant sources however state that the Master who we have been unable to reach for comments on the incident raise May Day alarm at about 1.30 am on Saturday 25 August. Military assets from the Navy and Rapid Intervention corps alongside security patrol and operations support vessels working in the offshore oil and gas in the Bakassi were brought in to rescue that which they could. At the time of writing this report, a Hundered and Three (103) passengers were rescued and Three (03) casualties yet to be identified were brought into Limbe in the early hours of Sunday. Though it is hard to say with precision the number of passengers and crew were riding the vessel at the time, reports speak of 200 in total. Going by that number Ninety Four (94) are still unaccounted for until the ongoing search and rescue efforts are called off.

Whilst the implication of the army units that deployed assets to provide search and rescue proved that in times of need they have the reflex to act promptly, other government agencies have yet to issue official statements on the incident. Reached for a situation report on the incident, Mr. Zama Michael, the Fako Maritime District head argued that the incident according to first unauthoritative sources could have been cause by many factors, chiefly the lack of maintenance and human error. The Bureau Chief of the Limbe Autonomous Port Authority on the other hand said. Chief Warrant officer Major —— of the Limbe Naval Amphibious unit explained its rescue team

At the level of the Merchant Shipping and Inland Water Navigable Ways of the Ministry of Transport, inside sources have lamented the high rate of marine casualties in the Country’s territorial seas. The source revealed that in the face on this accident, one to many, the Minister of Transport will in the next coming days make a statement on the incident and going forward nothing will be like before for all those stakeholders in the country’s local coasting and international cabotage trade.

Article provided by NGA Marine Services Ltd Douala, Cameroon

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