Bangladeshi Sailor Killed in Blast on Ship Docked at Ukrainian Port

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
Bangladeshi Sailor Killed in Blast on Ship Docked at Ukrainian Port Relatives of Bangladeshi sailor Hadisur Rahman Arif cry over his death in an explosion aboard a ship at a Ukrainian port, in his home district of Barguna in southern Bangladesh, March 3, 2022,

Twenty-eight Bangladeshi crewmembers have been evacuated from a cargo ship docked at a Ukrainian port that was hit by a bomb or missile late Wednesday, killing one, Dhaka’s envoy to Poland told BenarNews on Thursday.

The crew were currently in a safe home in Ukraine, and in good health, Ambassador Sultana Laila Hossain said.

It was not immediately clear whether Ukraine or Russia was responsible for the strike, or whether it was intentional, amid fierce fighting between the two sides a week after Russia launched its invasion of the neighboring former Soviet republic.

“Today we have evacuated the 28 Bangladeshi crew and other staff from the ship ‘Bangla Samriddhi’ to a safe home in Ukraine, some two kilometers away from the Olvia port. They are in good health,” Hossain said.

“We have sent the dead body to a mortuary in Ukraine,” she said, referring to Hadisur Rahman Arif, the sailor who was killed in the blast.

Bangladesh does not have a mission in Ukraine and the embassy in Poland is in charge of bilateral relations with Ukraine.

Arif, who was a third engineer on the ship run by the state-owned Bangladesh Shipping Corp., was killed instantly when the ship was struck, Capt. Md. Mujibur Rahman, a deputy general manager of the company, told BenarNews on Thursday.

Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, state minister for shipping, told reporters Thursday that the government would comment on the incident after determining who was responsible for the “attack.”

He said the government had been working through diplomatic channels to get the sailors back to Bangladesh.

At the time of the blast – 9 p.m. Wednesday in Bangladesh – Arif was on a video call with his younger brother Prince, who lives in a southern district of the South Asian country, his uncle, Masudur Rahman Forkan, told BenarNews.

“Arif was in an open space of the ship talking to Prince … Suddenly, Prince heard a huge sound and the call snapped. Prince thought the call had dropped due to an internet connection problem,” Forkan said.

“But after a while, the captain of the ship called and informed [us] that the huge sound was of the blast that killed his brother.”

Forkan said the state minister for shipping had assured him that his nephew’s body would be brought back to his village in the Betagi sub-district of the coastal Barguna district, some 290 kilometers from the capital Dhaka.

Forkan said Arif’s father was a retired madrassa (religious school) teacher and Arif was the only earning member of the poor family.

“His parents are old and sick. This attack has destroyed the whole family,” Forkan said.

BD-inside pic.jpg

Tariqul Islam shows a picture on a phone of his brother, Hadisur Rahman Arif, who was killed aboard a ship at a Ukrainian port, in Barguna, southern Bangladesh, March 3, 2022. [BenarNews]

‘Flagrant violation’

Capt. Rahman of the Bangladesh Shipping Corporation told BenarNews that the ship, the Bangla Samriddhi, had sailed from Mumbai’s port in India for Turkey on Jan. 16, and then left Turkey and reached Ukraine on Feb. 23, a day before Russia invaded Ukraine.

The ship was loading clay at Olvia and was supposed to head for an Italian port on Feb. 24, but was stranded at the Ukrainian port after Russia attacked its next-door neighbor.

After the blast, the crew members uploaded short SOS video clips asking for the Bangladesh government to immediately rescue them from the conflict zone.

 “Please save us … we are near death … please do something for us,” Asiful Islam, a stranded crew member, said in one video message seen by BenarNews.

Shipping analysts called the incident a “flagrant violation” of international laws, which exempt commercial ships from attacks by conflicting parties.

Commodore Syed Ariful Islam, a former director general of the government’s Department of Shipping, said Russia would primarily be blamed for the attack because it invaded Ukraine, although Moscow may point the finger at Kyiv.

“Russia or any country can in no way carry out attacks on commercial ships. This is a flagrant violation of all international laws on war and seas,” he told BenarNews.

“According to the Geneva Convention, UNCLOS and other laws, commercial ships cannot be the target as they are not a part of the warring parties,” said Commodore Islam. UNCLOS is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“A seaport is rated as one of the safest places. So this attack is really condemnable and regrettable,” he added.

Md. Mazaharul Hoque Prodhan, a member of the parliamentary watchdog at the Ministry of Shipping, blamed the Bangladesh Shipping Corp. for the death of the Bangladeshi sailor in Ukraine.

“The media has been circulating for months that Russia would invade Ukraine. Why did they send the ship to Ukraine? This is a senseless decision, I think,” he told BenarNews.

“Certainly, I will raise the issue at the next meeting of the standing committee to make the [Bangladesh] Shipping Corporation and the shipping ministry accountable,” said Prodhan, a senior ruling party lawmaker.

Meanwhile, Reuters news agency reported that many shipping companies have halted sailings to affected Black Sea ports and other terminals in Ukraine, and that at least three commercial ships have been hit by projectiles since Feb. 24.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.