By Chris King • 09 March 2022 • 1:22
According to judicial sources quoted by La Voz de Galicia, Samuel Kwesi Koufie, one of the three survivors of the shipwrecked Galician fishing vessel ‘Villa de Pitanxo’ – which sank on February 15, 450km east of Newfoundland in Canada – declared that its skipper ignored warnings that the sailors gave him.
Koufie allegedly told the Guardia Civil, while before the Commission for the Investigation of Maritime Accidents and Incidents (Ciaim), that the men had told the skipper “to let go of the net, which could have made it possible to correct the list, and, ultimately, prevent the shipwreck”.
A problem reportedly arose during the rig collection manoeuvre, due to the poor meteorological conditions, strong gusts of wind, accompanied by large waves, caused the boat to list to port.
That was the moment when the crew told the skipper to release the net to regain stability, but he did listen. As a result, water began to fill the compartments, the engine stopped, and the fishing boat ended up sinking.
According to Samuel’s version, the skipper would not give the order to abandon ship, or put on the life jackets. Hee and his nephew were the only two crew members who had it on, as the others did not have time.
A raft where the three survivors and four bodies were rescued from, also apparently had a hole in it, according to what Samuel told the media. He told how they floated for five hours, until they were found by the Playa Menduiña Dos.
However, a different version is being told by the captain, Juan Padin, and his nephew, Eduardo Rial. They maintain the skipper was on the bridge when the event unfolded, explaining that during the manoeuvre to collect the nets, the ship’s engine stopped, and water began to enter the ship.
It is because of this difference in the statements that the National Court has opened an investigation “on the possible criminal responsibilities in the sinking”. The shipwreck led to the death of 21 of the 24 sailors, nine of whom were rescued dead, and the rest are still missing. If found guilty, the skipper faces a “crime of reckless murder for each of the 21 deceased sailors, or against the rights of workers”.
In a statement to the press, Samuel said that he did not want to “confirm or deny” the said information, indicating that “for the sake of his testimony coming to fruition in court” he has not spoken with the relatives of the victims, despite being the first who wants to do so.
“I do not want this great tragedy to revolve around me, out of respect for my companions, and so that the authorities are the ones who define the responsibilities”, stressed the sailor of Ghanaian origin. For this reason, he has asked for “understanding” from the people who are waiting to know his version.
The relatives of the 21 deceased have thanked Samuel for his “courage”, and the fact that he has not succumbed “to lies”. Adding, “Now there is a judicial process ahead. People like him contribute to making this world fairer. His courage, despite all the pressure, is exemplary”, they claimed in a message sent to the media, as reported by 20minutos.es.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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