On Sunday 9 July 2017, the Hsiang Fuh fishing vessel caught fire, forcing its 30 members of crew to abandon the ship. Over 500 miles from land, the Chinese and Filipino crew boarded life rafts. They were spotted by crew from a passing container ship who alerted air sea rescue from South Africa.
The crew were transferred to Durban, with two hospitalised with serious burns. The other crew have been lodged in a hotel, though they have not been allowed to leave by the home affairs department.
The seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea, assisted by the IMarEST's Guild of Benevolence, is providing support for the crew at this traumatic time. Durban port chaplain, Fr Herman Giraldo, has visited the crew in hospital and in the hotel to provide practical and emotional support.
‘The crew were landed with just the clothes on their backs; they had nothing’ said Fr Herman.
The Apostleship of the Sea, with the assistance of a grant from IMarEST’s welfare charity, the Guild of Benevolence, have been providing the crew with clothing, mobile phones, toiletries and help with costs for the crew to travel to and from the hospital to visit their crewmates.
‘This tragedy breaks one’s heart, these men were working to support their families. I suppose one consolation is that we are here to help them in this traumatic time with whatever they may need. It is not only practical help that we’re providing, and particular thanks to The Guild of Benevolence at IMarEST for their contribution, but equally important is our role of listening and helping them find a way through this ordeal ’ Fr Herman.