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This cargo ship's captain died aboard. Then the crew was stuck at sea for weeks

June 20, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 23%. 2 min read.

Captain Angelo Capurro started showing symptoms of Covid-19 on his second day at sea. Within five days, the 61-year-old skipper was confined to his cabin, unable to get out of bed.

(CNN)Captain Angelo Capurro started showing symptoms of Covid-19 on his second day at sea.

Six days later he was dead -- leaving the MV Ital Libera cargo ship without a shipmaster, carrying a dead body the crew had no means to store, and with a potential Covid outbreak aboard.

Finally, this month, the captain's body was returned to his native Italy, where his grieving family are seeking answers about his death and treatment at sea, in a case that has once again thrown a spotlight on the conditions of seafarers during the pandemic.

A ship the size of the 294-meter (964-foot) Ital Libera, with a crew of about 20, would not have a dedicated medical officer on board, but rather someone with basic medical training and the additional responsibility of administering health care, McCourt said.

The pandemic, however, has created a crew change crisis and the number of seafarers per ship is decreasing -- leaving the remaining crew to pick up more tasks, he said.

Capurro self-medicated with paracetamol and even found some oxygen aboard, his family said.

A statement issued by Italia Marittima said the company, the Italian Ministry of Foreign affairs, and multiple Italian embassies appealed to a number of countries to disembark Capurro's body, but Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, the Philippines and South Africa had all implemented Covid restrictions that banned the disembarkation and repatriation of his remains.

With the ship anchored off Jakarta, two crew members -- the first officer and a sailor who'd been in close contact with Capurro -- were eventually permitted to disembark, according to Mollard.

While the ship anchored, a new captain was brought aboard -- this time following strict Covid protocols, according to Capurro's son, Angelo Capurro.

The new captain had to stay in isolation for a week before being allowed to board the ship, Angelo Capurro said.

Since March 2020, the bodies of at least 10 seafarers who died at sea have been held on ships, denied disembarkation to repatriate the remains, according to the ITF.

And if you don't come home alone, we don't know whether we're going to get to say goodbye to your body," McCourt, the ITF spokesperson, said.

We don't know anything, not even if he died of Covid, we won't know anything until the autopsy," said Angelo Capurro.

On May 26, six weeks after Capurro's death, the Ital Libera finally set course for Italy to bring the body of its captain home.

The Ital Libera arrived in the southern port of Taranto, Italy, on June 14 -- almost two months to the day after Capurro's death.

"To see this ordeal, waiting two months for this moment, and finally to be able to be here on land, disembarked from the ship that was his life and has also become the place of his death," he said.

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by summa-bot

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