The Herald, December 3, 1994
EIGHT Zimbabwean residents — six adults and two children — were among the nearly 1 000 passengers and crew rescued from the Italian cruiser Achille Lauro, which caught fire off the Somali coast on Wednesday and sank soon after sunset last night.
Starlight Cruises of South Africa confirmed yesterday that Dr Sipho and Mrs Mary Zwana, Mr Colin and Mrs Demarie Armour, and Mr and Mrs Mortimer and their two children were aboard the liner when it caught fire on a cruise between Italy and South Africa.
Dr Zwana is a medical practitioner at Mater Dei Hospital, a private hospital in Malindela in Bulawayo, while the Armours and Mortimers come from Chinhoyi. The Zwanas and Armours are Zimbabwe citizens, while the Mortimers travel on South African passports, although they are residents of Zimbabwe, with Mr Mortimer working for an electrical firm in Chinhoyi.
The eight and the other 969 passengers and crew are now aboard the flotilla of eight merchant ships and two US warships that came to the assistance of the Achille Lauro.
Three merchant vessels and the two US navy craft are taking 346 passengers and crew to Djibouti, while the other five merchant vessels are taking the rest — including the eight from Zimbabwe — to Mombasa.
Almost all aboard the Achille Lauro were picked up by the Hawaiian King, a tanker that was able to hove close to the burning liner as life rafts ferried those aboard to safety.
On Thursday most of them took to the rafts again as they were distributed among all 10 ships that diverted to help. Cargo ships and tankers are not equipped to cope with large numbers of people, and splitting the passengers among the whole flotilla would ensure that most could be housed below decks.
The last tug staying with the abandoned and still burning $250 million liner reported that she slipped beneath the Indian Ocean at 6.10pm Zimbabwe time last night.
Although latest reports indicate that three people may have died, only two have been confirmed, two elderly men from Britain and Germany. Eight injuries have been confirmed but reports indicate that several more people need urgent medical attention and most are suffering from sunburn and other complaints related to exposure.
Dr Zwana’s daughter Busi, speaking from their Bulawayo home also said, her parents were in the ship for a dream cruise which was expected to take 21 days. — Herald Reporter, Ziana-AFP-Reuters.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
The rapid response to disasters by relevant stakeholders can minimise and avert the loss of innocent lives.
We learn about total stakeholder involvement in disaster management considering that the festive season has started. We experienced this when Cyclone Idai hit Chimanimani, Chipinge and other areas early this year.
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