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The Indian crew of the gigantic container ship that was freed after running aground in the Suez Canal may be placed under house arrest – and also could face criminal charges for the mishap, according to a report.
The Indian government and seafarers’ groups are concerned about how the Suez Canal Authority will treat the 25 crew members after the 1,300-foot-long Ever Given was wrenched free Monday, nearly a week after it became lodged, the Times of India reported.
Sources in the shipping industry told the news outlet that the crew could be banned from traveling further and also may ultimately be criminally charged for the mishap.
“There is a clear danger that the crew will be made scapegoats,” Capt. Sanjay Prashar, a member of the National Shipping Board, told the news outlet.
“Firstly, it has to be ascertained as to how the giant ship ran aground. Facts can be checked by examining and listening to conversation in the ship voyage data recorder and one can come to an understanding as to what caused the mishap,” he added.
Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the Ever Given’s technical manager, did not identify the crew members, but said they were “all safe and accounted for and they remain in good health,” the Times of India reported.
“The hard work and tireless professionalism of the master and crew are greatly appreciated,” it added.
The Mumbai-based National Union of Seafarers of India has expressed solidarity with the Indian merchant mariners.
“The NUSI has promised solidarity with all Indian seafarers on board ‘Ever Given.’ … The seafarers are fine but stressed. They are not alone and we will support them whenever required and in whataver manner required,” NUSI General Secretary Abdulgani Serang said in a tweet.
Meanwhile, formal investigations into how the colossal vessel ran aground begin Wednesday, a canal official told Reuters.
Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Rabie has suggested weather conditions, including high winds, and human error could have played a role in the grounding, which brought global shipping commerce to a standstill.
The probe will include examining the seaworthiness of the ship and its captain’s actions to help determine the causes, Rabie adviser Capt. Sayed Sheasha told the news agency.
The incident is expected to give rise to a flood of insurance claims, with Lloyd’s of London expecting a “large loss,” possibly amounting to $100 million or more, its chairman said.
The ship’s Japanese owner said it had not received any claims or lawsuits yet.
Investigators have already boarded the Ever Given, which is in a lake that separates two sections of the Suez, a canal source and a shipping agent said.
The SCA has scheduled accelerated shipping convoys to clear a backlog of more than 400 vessels that built after the Ever Given became stranded. It has said it hopes the queues can be cleared by the end of the week.
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