HC Deb 19 March 1906 vol 154 cc55-6

To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he has received any report with regard to the accident in the river, near Old Calabar, which happened on board the s.s. "Pembie," formerly the s.s. "Croxdale," whereby two men were suffocated in the ship's bunkers; whether he is aware that the master proceeded to take the ship to sea instead of stopping the vessel and obtaining assistance from the shore in recovering the bodies of the men from the bunkers; and whether he can say if any proper inquiry has been held into the circumstances relating to the death of the two men; and if not, will he cause inquiry to be made at an early date.

(Answered by Mr. Kearley.) The Board of Trade have received very full Reports relating to the accident on board the "Nembe," which I shall have pleasure in showing to the hon. Member if he desires to see them. Unfortunately, the lives of two men were lost. Only a few men could work at a time in the reserve bunker, and, although every effort was made under the superintendence of the chief officer, it was only after three hours strenuous efforts that the bodies of the men were recovered. An inquiry was held by the acting superintendent at Barbados, who reported, after examining six witnesses, that the occurrence could not have been prevented and that no one was to blame. A further inquiry was held by the acting superintendent at Port Talbot, by whom ten other witnesses were examined, who were unanimous that the accident was unavoidable and that everything possible was done to rescue the unfortunate men. The "Nembe" has been carefully examined by the Board of Trade surveyors, who report that there is nothing about the formation of the bunkers to call for any action on their part. The Board are advised that, having regard to the position of the vessel and other circumstances, the master would not have been justified in stopping the vessel.