HC Deb 06 April 1909 vol 3 c1131W

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the death on 9th November, 1908, from beri-beri of an Asiatic seaman named Essack Mahomed-jee, one of the crew of the ss. "Avala," of Liverpool; whether he is aware that this disease is attributed to insufficient and improper food; whether any inquiry has been held; whether the seaman was medically examined prior to joining the ship; whether he had any previous sea service; and whether any previous cases of beriberi have occurred on this ship?


Yes, Sir. The man referred to by my hon. Friend died of beriberi at Bangkok where the vessel was at anchor. The cause of beri-beri has not yet been definitely ascertained, but it is probable that bad and insufficient food may predispose to the disease. The master states that the Indian scale of diet was given in full, and that fresh provisions are supplied in addition. Inquiry was made by the principal collector at Colombo and the superintendent of the Mercantile Marine Office at Barry. The man was medically examined at Bombay, but I am not aware whether he had had previous sea service. Six previous deaths from beri-beri on board this vessel have been reported during the last three years, and care will be taken to ascertain on the return of the vessel to this country whether there is anything in the ventilation, food, or conditions of employment which may have conduced to such a serious loss of life.